Cruisin' the Coast

Louisiana man celebrates Cruisin’ win after week of fun

Cruisin’ the Coast wrapped up Sunday, celebrating another record-breaking year of cruisers driving their hot rods, rat rods and classic cars down the beachfront highway for thousands of spectators to enjoy.

The cars could be seen in cities from Bay St. Louis to Pascagoula and Moss Point, and thousands turned out, many setting up lawn chairs to camp out and catch a glimpse of the cruisers speeding by.

“It’s been a tremendous success,” Cruisin’ Executive Director Woody Bailey said Sunday. “The weather was great and we actually beat our record from last year by Thursday night.”

A total of 7,957 classic cars were registered this year and by the end of Sunday’s final event — capped off by the surprise winner of the raffle car, a red 1965 Ford Mustang convertible —1,001 car enthusiasts had already preregistered for next year.

Mark Zito of Port Allen had already left one day early after spending the majority of the week at Cruisin’ with his wife when he got a surprise call Sunday morning.

“I was at Wal-Mart,” he said. “When they called and I heard it was Cruisin’ The Coast, I didn’t believe it at first. Only when I heard the crowds (in the background), I knew it was real.”

Zito stopped his shopping and jumped in a car Sunday to return to Mississippi to pick up his new cherry red car. It will take its spot at his home next to his classic car, a restored gold 1967 Firebird.

“You never would think you’d win,” he said. “This is a real surprise. When I told my wife, she didn’t believe it. I have a feeling it will end up being by my wife’s car.”

Residents from more than 40 states and some from other countries participated in this year’s weeklong event.

Other than a crash Saturday that left several people injured, South Mississippi law enforcement officials did not report any problems other than the usual expected traffic delays.

Margaret Baker: 228-896-0538, @Margar45

Car of the Day: 1936 Irish green Ford pickup

The 2017 Cruisin’ The Coast raffle car was unveiled Sunday.

The 1936 Irish green Ford pickup features a 350 V-8 engine and turbo transmission.

Cruisin’ officials have nicknamed the car “Lass” because of the color.

The car features Coker white wall tires and other amenities and will be up for grabs at the end of the 2017 weeklong Cruisin’ event.