Cruisin' the Coast

Campers claim their spots along the Coast to get a first-hand look at Cruisin'

JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALD 
 A group of Cruisin' The Coast visitors from Louisiana relax under their tent on a piece of land in Biloxi on Friday Oct. 2, 2015. The cars are a 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air owned by Bobby and Cheri Baucher of Slidell, left, and a 1946 Ford coupe owned by Bill and Bonnie Dekemel of Slidell.
JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALD A group of Cruisin' The Coast visitors from Louisiana relax under their tent on a piece of land in Biloxi on Friday Oct. 2, 2015. The cars are a 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air owned by Bobby and Cheri Baucher of Slidell, left, and a 1946 Ford coupe owned by Bill and Bonnie Dekemel of Slidell. SUN HERALD

Classic cars rolling along the Coast are something spectators fight to see up-close and personal at Cruisin' The Coast each year.

Some spectators are fortunate enough to land a prime camping spot right on the side of U.S. 90. anywhere from Bay St. Louis to Pascagoula.

Landing that perfect spot, however, is not without effort. It can take months of planning or even years of experience.

George Ogwynn of Mobile said a group of friends persuaded him to bring his camper this year for the fun and join them at their beachfront locale near Pine Grove Avenue in Biloxi.

"They've been coming down here for years and camping at the exact same spot," Ogwynn said. "I sure am glad I decided to tag along this year; it's been a blast. I almost want to go down and sit on the beach since the weather has been so great. The only care in the world I've had is hauling water back from the store."

Biloxi city officials said most campers use private properties as their sites for the week and such arrangements are typically between the campers and the landowners and as long as their locale doesn't obstruct traffic or cause complaints with residents the campers are welcome.

Brian Chevalier helps monitor his father-in-law's vacant lot near the Surf Style on Beach Boulevard in Biloxi and said they have always allowed campers to spend the week there.

"It's not about money or anything," he said. "We just want to help tourists have a

good time while they are down here."

Guests contact Chevalier prior to the annual event to gain access to the lot, and he makes sure they have the room they need for their stay.

"Just making sure the right people are here and are in their designated area," he said. "They are an easy bunch to supervise."

Chevalier said it's mostly the same campers who come back each year and some even ask for the same spot.

Ron Swaggart and Vernon Boteler of Jackson have been camping at Chevalier's lot for almost a decade and only have one request each year.

"I always ask to have my tree," Swaggart said. "We park our campers right here and lounge in the shade of the tree."

Swaggart said he arrived to the Coast early Saturday and is staying until Sunday morning.

"We are going to cruise around and enjoy the scenery," he said. "Besides that, the only plan we have is relaxing."

Gulfport Public Information Officer Chris Vignes said the city is proud to be able to give guests a venue to continually come back.

"Having a destination that people are willing to spend an entire week at is an honor," he said. "Every year at Cruisin' The Coast we are more than happy to play host to all our visitors."

Vignes said the Coast never disappoints when it comes to hosting events.

"You never hear people leave disappointed," he said. "We learn from each event and strive for even better the next year."

Brent Gravois and his friends from Vacherie, La., haven't missed a Cruisin' The Coast event and have camped at sites along Biloxi beach since Hurricane Katrina.

"We did the hotel thing for a while," he said. "Once we did camping, there was no switching."

Gravois was grilling burgers Wednesday afternoon and said spending time with friends is even better than the cars.

"It's hard to beat this right here," he said. "Days like today are why we keep coming back every year."

Gravois doesn't own a classic car, but he said he's happy just watching.

"We like to joke that we are just getting ideas for the car we'll eventually get," he said. "This is definitely the perfect place to get inspired to own a classic car."

  Comments