Saturday wrapped up a record-breaking week for Cruisin’ The Coast, when thousands of classic cars roll up and down scenic U.S. 90 and stop at block parties and events along the way.
A total of 8,620 vehicles were registered out of 42 states and Canada, topping last year’s record of 8,444.
Woody Bailey, longtime executive director of Cruisin’ , said this year’s event was a complete success thanks to Coast cities working together to make it an event people from across the country will want to come to.
“It’s not only the registered vehicles, we invite people from all over to see the cars and enjoy Mississippi in a beautiful time of year,” Bailey said. “The Coast really rolls out the red carpet, and we treat people right. That makes people want to come back and bring their friends.”
Saturday, lawn chairs and tents were scattered along the sides of Beach Boulevard from Biloxi to Gulfport. Many got up up early in the morning to snag the perfect spot on one of the first cool mornings of the fall season.
Jim and Judy Chlian drove down from Minnesota to stay the week with an uncle who lives in the area. This was their first-ever Cruisin’ experience.
“He’s been asking us for years to come, so we finally did,” Judy said. “We love being down here.”
The two have a passion for classic cars, owning a ‘55 and ‘65 Chevy and a ‘77 Chevy pickup truck. They also belong to a classic car club In Alexandria, Minnesota. The couple came prepared to watch the cars with chairs and a cooler full of sandwiches.
“We are set up for the rest of the day,” Jim said. “I’ve loved every minute of it. We’d love to come back in the future.”
Taraundra and Marus Smith come to Gulfport from Moss Point every year. The couple set up chairs in front of Edgewater Mall on Saturday morning. This year, they brought some of their family from Florida.
“We’ve been doing this for a long time,” Taraundra said. “Other than watching cars, we really like taking this time coming together and hanging out as a family. We always end up meeting people from all over the place.”
They were just a few of dozens of spectators in front of the mall. Taraundra said it’s a fun way to spend the Saturday, especially since she enjoys seeing the older, classic cars.
“It’s worth It, all the traffic, everything,” she said. “Just get here early and wait it out to get you a good seat and enjoy.”
The masses of people are a welcome sight to many businesses along the Coast. After a slow summer due to beach closings from a blue-green algae bloom, Cruisin’ will hopefully be a much-needed boost for Coast businesses.
“That’s a big part of why Cruisin’ was started, to have a significant impact during a slower time of year,” Bailey said.
“Everybody has a good eight-day run and helps the economy. It’s a great thing to see the Coast work together. That’s what’s great about Cruisin’ The Coast, it brings everyone together from all over to help the Coast that we love.”