With 6 weeks to go until Cruisin’ The Coast, a record number of antique and classic cars are registered for the 20th year.
Pre-registration closed last week and when all the mail was opened and email registration counted, the numbers were 316 ahead of this time last year.
Executive Director Woody Bailey said last year was a record at 6,314 vehicles pre-registered and this year’s count surpassed that at 6,630.
Several thousand more vehicles are expected to add to that number when vehicle registration reopens Monday, Oct. 3 at 11 a.m. at Cruise Central at Centennial Plaza on U.S. 90 in Gulfport.
There is a buzz about this 20th year for an event that was organized by Coast casino executives looking to extend the tourist season in South Mississippi and boost the local economy. The festival began in 1996, when 374 vehicles were registered, and last year set a record at 7,639 registered vehicles from 41 states plus Canada and Sweden.
“I think people are excited. Some don’t realize it’s the 20th year. Some do,” Bailey said.
This year’s logo incorporates a large “20” in the design and Bailey said many of the T-shirts will, too. Souvenir merchandise goes on sale opening day, Oct. 2, at events at Hardy Court in Gulfport, at Pascagoula and downtown Gulfport.
Official Cruisin’ events will take the cars, drivers and spectators to cities across 30 miles of beach road and to all three Coast counties for opportunities to admire the cars and hear music of the day when these cars ruled the road.
The casinos are lining up national musicians and will start the party early with a quartet of ‘60s performers on Oct. 1, the night before Cruisin’ launches. Art Garfunkel of Simon and Garfunkel fame will be at IP Casino, Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone will take the stage at Golden Nugget Casino Biloxi, Chubby Checker and War are at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino and the Monkees Good Times Anniversary Tour plays at Hard Rock Biloxi. The Beach Boys will be back at the Beau Oct. 7 and 8.
Moss Point and Gautier also will join the party this year, with Cruisin’ The River City on the schedule for Oct. 4 in Moss Point and Cruisin’ part of the Gautier Mullet and Music Festival on Oct. 8.
“The schedule is fairly set but we are working on some other events and possible celebrities that may be a part of Cruisin’,” Bailey said.