Cruisin' the Coast

Masked Cruiser dazzled by chrome and color

Cruisin' Central under the oak trees on U.S. 90 in Gulfport was filled with antique and classic cars and their fans on Monday.
Cruisin' Central under the oak trees on U.S. 90 in Gulfport was filled with antique and classic cars and their fans on Monday. meperez@sunherald.com

“Oh, look at that one right there,” I heard from a passing car as I prepared to turn into Cruise Central on Monday.

I already had a few “gee whiz” moments myself, as I noticed a parking lot full of cruisers at Waffle House and heard a muscle car behind me before it appeared in my rearview mirror.

In the 20 years since the first Cruisin’, it’s been billed as America’s Largest Block Party. It’s gotten off to an incredible start and the events will keep spreading to communities across the Coast.

The weather was ideal Monday to be out among the cars, wandering under the trees and getting an eye-full of color and chrome when the sun shone through. The music was from the ’50s and ’60s, and an old-fashioned engine cranked ice cream freezers working to keep up with the orders.

The cars and trucks are the stars of this show, but strike up a conversation with the owners and the history of the vehicles shines through.

The rest of the family had to be back to work and school Monday, but Cason Dukes, age 4, got to stay with his grandparents Bill and Bonnie Taylor of Florence. They found a shady spot under the trees, within sight of their yellow and white Chevy Bel Air.

“I’ve got it about as long as I’ve got my wife,” Bill said of the Bel Air he’s owned for 42 years. One day the cruiser may be passed down to Cason, who prefers green to yellow and may have a different cruiser in mind.

“I do like mufflers and stacks,” he said of the vertical pipes on trucks. “I like trucks.”

The eras and colors mix and clash as a pink and pearl gray ’50s Chevy with “Happy Days” plates is parked near a ’70s banana yellow Corvette and a ’40s Lincoln Continental convertible that stretches well beyond one of today’s parking places.

It’s hard not to go back when you spot a 1962 Chevy 2 station wagon like the one you rode, dressed in pajamas, to the drive-in. Or a ’60s Volkswagen truck that is quite rare, perhaps because it blew through motors way too fast. Or the1984 Pontiac Fiero, a tiny car with a great big motor and flip-up headlights. At least one of those headlights liked to stay up.

One of the things that sets Cruisin’ The Coast apart is it’s more than cars in a parking lot, but great old cars riding along the beach. Tuesday the cars will be back on the Autocross track at the Coast Coliseum and Cruisin’ The River City in Moss Point.

Those who don’t like traffic would be wise to stay off of U.S. 90 this week. Those who love the cars and the bygone days can slow down, lean out the window and snap a photo with their cellphone.

“Putting it on Facebook,” a woman explained. There’s those eras mixing again.

Tuesday

  • Registration open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at Cruise Central, Gulfport
  • The Vicari Auto Auction vehicle check-in at Coliseum, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Autocross presented by Golden Nugget Casino and Racing Rednecks, Coast Coliseum (west parking lot), 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Open to registered vehicles only.
  • Shane & Natalie Lester, stars of ‘Street Outlaws NOLA,’ with their cars, ‘Da Hellion’ and ‘Prime Evil’ appearance: Cruise Central, 10 a.m.-noon;
  • New City of Moss Point Cruisin’ The River City 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Feature Car Appearance

  • Cruise Central, Gulfport, 10 a.m.- 2 p.m.
  • Flame-throwing competition at Island View Casino Casino, Gulfport, entertainment, 4 p.m.; registration, 5 p.m.; competition begins at dusk. New This Year: $600 in cash prizes and trophies.

Casino Entertainment

  • Redfield Acoustic, 8 p.m. IP Casino, Chill Ultra Lounge

More online

Go to sunherald.com for more Cruisin’ The Coast Coverage. There you’ll find videos, picture galleries, stories and more and download our Sun Herald app, availble in the Apple App store and Google Play Store, for you smartphones and tablets.

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