With the countdown clock down to about 80 days until Cruisin’ The Coast, America’s Largest Block Party is on pace for another record year and the major events will extend across even more of South Mississippi this year.
Thousands of antique and classic cars will be Cruisin’ The Coast from Oct. 1-8 and this year, drivers and spectators will find new events mixed in with favorites like the Vicari Auction, the oldies bands, the swap meet and just sitting along U.S. 90 and watching history drive by.
“We’re now legal. We’re 21 years old,” said executive director Woody Bailey. The event was started by casino executives and others in the community looking to extend the summer season. It had a $26.1 million economic impact last year on the three Coast counties and $28.6 million statewide.
Even with 20 years of practice, the organizers keep growing and improving the event. What’s new for this year are:
▪ “Pascagoula has come on board this year as a three-day venue,” said Bailey. The event will be in downtown Pascagoula and the city will join Ocean Springs, D’Iberville, Edgewater Mall in Biloxi, Pass Christian and Bay St. Louis in hosting day-long events and music Thursday through Saturday of Cruisin’ week.
Pascagoula has hosted a one-day event in the past, but this is the first time it will be one of the major venues. Pascagoula adds about 15 miles to the Cruisin’ course that stretches across three counties, from Bay St. Louis, for a total now of about 50 miles. Bailey said it will be an incentive venue, and registered drivers who get their card stamped at all the venues to be eligible for prizes on the last day of Cruisin’ will get an extra $100 if they have the Pascagoula stamp.
▪ Salute to Our Veterans has moved back to Tuesday and to Cruise Central in Gulfport from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
▪ “For the first time in years, you’ll be able to light ‘em up during a burn-out in Pass Christian,” Bailey said. The event on Second Street is open to registered cruisers only and will be on the Thursday night of Cruisin’.
▪ Gautier will host a Cruisin’ the Decades event on the opening Sunday.
▪ In a promotion with the state tourism, registered cruisers who stop on their way to the Coast at Mississippi welcome centers in DeSoto County in Hernando, Lauderdale County on I-20 at Toomsuba and Warren County in Vicksburg can register to win a Mississippi getaway package with a one night stay and a meal at a local restaurant.
There were 374 vehicles registered the first year of Cruisin’ the Coast and last year’s 7,957 registered vehicles is the number to beat for another record. Bailey said that by the end of June, he had 4,093 vehicles already registered, which is 242 ahead of last year’s pace. Cars from 38 states, Canada and Puerto Rico are among those pre-registered and 600 of them are new to Cruisin’ the Coast.
Aug. 15 is the deadline for early bird registrations and the Cruisin’ organizers are serious about that deadline. All registrations must be received by email, fax or postmarked by that date or the drivers will have to wait until registration opens six weeks later during Cruisin’ on Oct. 2 at 11 a.m.
Auto celebrities Cristy Lee, Courtney Hansen and Dennis Gage will be back this year, along with Chubby Checker at Hollywood Gulf Coast Casino, The Beach Boys at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino and Elvis tributes at Palace Casino Resort and Hard Rock Casino Biloxi.