Cruisin' the Coast

Classic cars cruise out of South Mississippi after record-setting year

AMANDA McCOY/SUN HERALD 
 The Make-A-Wish Raffle Car for 2016 was unveiled on Sunday, October 11, 2015, at Cruise Central in Gulfport. Next year cruisers will have a chance to win the 1965 Mustange convertible.
AMANDA McCOY/SUN HERALD The Make-A-Wish Raffle Car for 2016 was unveiled on Sunday, October 11, 2015, at Cruise Central in Gulfport. Next year cruisers will have a chance to win the 1965 Mustange convertible. SUN HERALD

BILOXI -- From Bay St. Louis to Pascagoula, last week's weather was perfect, the traffic was flowing, the crowds were heavy and the classic cars were here again.

And Cruisin' The Coast 2015 broke all of its previous records.

The Edgewater Mall parking lot, where many cruisers park their hot rods, rat rods and classic cars, was empty Sunday as participants merged on to U.S. 90 to head home, but Cruisin' Executive Director Woody Bailey said he couldn't have asked for a better week.

"Everything went very well," he said. "Naturally, we all enjoyed the weather that we had all week."

Bailey said 7,639 classic cars registered this year. That's 346 more than last year, he said.

Residents of 45 states participated in the weeklong event, plus cruisers from Washington, D.C., Sweden and Canada.

And before 1,058 cruisers left South Mississippi, Bailey said they registered for 2016's event.

"That also is a record pre-registration for next year," he said.

At every event across the Coast, Bailey said he saw more people than last year. He also said more spectators came out to see the cars than last year.

Many people took lawn chairs to U.S. 90 to watch cruisers, and many booked hotel rooms and spent money in local shops and restaurants.

Bailey said much of Cruisin' The Coast's advertising campaign centered around South Mississippi tourism.

"A lot of our advertising was spent around getting people to get out, book a room and enjoy all the Coast," he said.

Bailey said the sponsors, volunteers and Southern hospitality are what make the event a tremendous success.

At Cruise Central at Centennial Plaza in Gulfport, officials said they also saw record numbers, and things ran smoothly for most of the week.

Gulfport Sgt. Damon McDaniel said Gulfport police did not make any major arrests related to Cruisin'.

"The only thing we really dealt with was traffic in itself," Damon said.

On Saturday, traffic along U.S. 90 in Harrison County stayed steady throughout the evening. At its peak, McDaniel said thecrowd estimate in Gulfport was about 7,500 people.

In Pass Christian, many of the streets in downtown were blocked off so spectators could enjoy classic cars.

North Beach Boulevard in Bay St. Louis was crawling with people on Saturday afternoon. Many registered cars lined the beach for much of the day.

"The event itself was a tremendous success," Bailey said.

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