blank 08/24/09 10:28PM Car Events, Car show, Cruisin the Coast

Cruisin’ The Coast ready to roll Oct. 4-11

Cruisin’ The Coast is more than a month away, but organizers say registrations are rolling in.

“As of Aug. 15 (the cutoff for early registration), there were 3,361 cars registered,” said Woody Bailey, executive director of Cruisin’ The Coast. “One of the good things, too, is that we are seeing a number of people who have not attended before, and people who haven’t been here since before Katrina.”

Bailey said Cruisin’ The Coast has been able to use tourism grant money to boost its advertising in publications such as Hemmings Motor News and Popular Hot Rodding to reach people who may not have heard of the event.

Cruisin the Coast Car Show
SUN HERALD FILE PHOTO Television host Dennis Gage of the show ‘My Classic Car’ signs the dash of Edwin and Sylvia Cockburn’s ‘23 homemade Ford T-bucket rat rod during the 2008 Cruisin’ The Coast in Ocean Springs. Gage will be back this year, filming segments for his show.

By the close of 2008’s event, 4,311 cars had registered, and Bailey hopes this year’s event, scheduled Oct. 4-11, will surpass that.

Registration numbers have fluctuated since Hurricane Katrina cancelled the event in 2005. In 2006, 4,500 cars were registered, but those numbers were inflated because some people who were registered for the event in 2005 were carried over into 2006, Cruisin’ The Coast officials have said. A total of 3,842 cars registered in 2007. The largest year for the event, which began in 1996, was in 2004 with 5,364 cars registered.

Conditions have gotten better each year since Katrina, and this is the first year since the storm that reconstruction of U.S. 90 is complete.

Organizers have mixed things up a bit this year, too, hooking Cruisin’ The Coast’s opening day, Oct. 4, to the finale of Smokin’ The Lake, a three-day world championship outboard drag-boat race on Gulfport Lake, and changing Cruise Central from Gulfport’s Jones Park at U.S. 90 and U.S. 49 to the old VA property on U.S. 90 in Gulfport because of construction work at Jones Park.

“The Old VA property is a beautiful place, with old oaks,” Bailey said.

Organizers have also added new venues and events to the schedule, including a planned Hawaiian Luau on Oct. 6 at Gulfport’s The Dock Bar & Grill off Seaway Road, which is the designated viewing location for Smokin’ The Lake.

And for the Oct. 7 block party in downtown Biloxi, organizers have added an afternoon pool party at the Hard Rock and an evening party at Beau Rivage, to make it a full day of Cruisin’ in Biloxi.

The Oct. 8 Bay St. Louis cruise-in will be in Old Town for the first time since Katrina, and on Oct. 10 members of the Mississippi Aviation Heritage Museum will do a fly-by along the beach.

Dennis Gage of the syndicated TV show “My Classic Car” will be on the Coast the entire week filming segments for his show, and casinos have scheduled some top-rate performers for the week, including Wayne Newton at the Beau Rivage, Styx at the Hard Rock and Larry the Cable Guy at the IP.

Another addition this year will be the presentation of the Gene Oswalt Volunteer of the Year Award. The award is named for the director of Cruisin’ The Coast since its inception until his death just before the event last year.

The award will be given away Oct. 11, the final day, to a volunteer who helped with Cruisin’ the previous year.

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