9/21/2013 10:47:00 AM Cruisin' The Coast scheduled for October
GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — The countdown is on for the 17th Cruisin' The Coast in South Mississippi and with 25 days to go, more than 5,000 antique and classic cars already are registered.
Event chairman Woody Bailey said 5,585 vehicles were signed up when early registration ended Aug. 15.
"That's a record in itself for pre-registration," he said, "and 704 cars ahead of where we were last year at this time."
Registration will open again Oct. 7 at 11 a.m. and organizers are hoping to top last year's record of 6,169 registered cars from 41 states and Canada.
"We're counting on somewhere close to 7,000 cars," Bailey said.
Cruisin' The Coast runs from Sunday, Oct. 6 to Sunday, Oct. 13, bringing cars, spectators, parades, sock hops and an economic impact of about $20 million from out-of-town visitors to the three Coast counties.
"America's Largest Block Party" will extend to two more cities this year.
Pass Christian becomes a new venue and stamping site, which car owners must visit to qualify for prize drawings. The venue will be west of War Memorial Park and around Davis and Market streets in the downtown.
Pass Christian has hosted Cruisin' The Coast events in the past, but this year joins Bay St. Louis, Ocean Springs, D'Iberville and Edgewater Mall in Biloxi as official sites that will be open with cars, music and vendors throughout the day Thursday through Saturday.
Diamondhead will host a new event —- Blessing of the Classics — on Oct. 9 after the Biloxi Block Party.
"It's a new twist for the Cruisers," said Bailey, and similar to the blessing of the shrimp fleet each year in South Mississippi.
Cars will stage south of the interstate and parade to the north side, follow a marked route through Diamondhead and end up near Rouse's Market in the business district. Clergy will bless the Cruisers for safe travel and Bailey said, "They will receive a certificate of blessing."
Another change this year is Island View Casino in Gulfport will host the flame throwing contest Oct. 8.
Casino executives started Cruisin' The Coast in 1996, when 374 vehicles were registered, and the casinos continue to be part of the festivities by hosting events and celebrities during Cruisin' week.
Bill Cosby takes the stage at IP Casino Resort Oct. 11. The Beach Boys will be in concert Oct. 11 with the University of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, and will return to Cruisin' at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino on Oct. 12.
Dennis Gage, star of the syndicated television show "My Classic Car," will be back again this year taping for his show. Cast members of "Counting Cars" on The History Channel will be signing autographs at the Beau Rivage Oct. 9 and Cruisin' The Coast.
"Our numbers continue to increase," said Bailey.
With more cars and spectators on the way, Bailey and his staff are meeting with police and city officials across the coast.
"One of the things I really like about Cruisin' is everybody's really working together," he said.
That includes 700 volunteers from 12 car clubs who register cars and direct traffic.
Bailey said, "They're vital to the success of the event."
Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com