Cruisin’ the Coast a $20 Million Economic Engine for MississippiBy Rhonda Miller | Published 06 Oct 2012 07:54am |
One of America’s biggest block parties is in gear on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Not only is Cruisin’ the Coast a dazzling parade of classic cars against a background of sand and sea. MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports the week-long event is a major economic engine.
Speaking of engines, there’s a lot of that going around this week.
"That’s a 1967 Chevelle with an 871 supercharger."
That’s Dallas Granger of Lafayette, Louisiana. Like many at Cruisin’ the Coast, he's been here before.
"Yes, this is my eighth year." "Why do you keep comin’ back?" "Cuz I love it. I like old cars."
Maurice Laiche lives near Baton Rouge and arrived with his shiny black 1957 Chevy with big whitewall tires.
"I came here the first Crusin’ the Coast they had. I don't remember what year it was. I think it was 16 years ago, they're saying. And it had about 375 cars, that were registered. But it has really grown into a big, big production." "Why have you come so many years?" "Well, I’m an antique car enthusiast and this is heaven."
Cruisin' the Coast is also a little bit of heaven for Mississippi’s tourism industry. Research director for the Gulf Coast Business Council, Scott King, says Cruisin’ fuels the state’s economy to the tune of $20 million.
"You have over 6,000 people actually register and bring their car down. And those folks stay on average six nights. And the spectators, who also come in masses, they'll stay on average for three-to-four nights, which is how you derive that significant amount of spending. And, of course, this happens in an historically slower month."
Joe Dozier came with a crowd - about 50 cars, and friends, from Southern Bay Cruisers and Classics in Grand Bay, Alabama.
"Absolutely, we’re spending money. We’re here 13 days. We’re here the Wednesday before Cruisin’ the Coast starts and we don’t leave ‘til Monday after Cruisin’ the Coast, enjoying local business, like Hog Heaven, you know, lunch time Subway, morning time Waffle House, buying souvenirs and things like that. And supporting the gas stations. That’s the biggest thing, supporting the gas stations, so we can get around and enjoy the Gulf Coast."
Car enthusiasts come to Cruisin' the Coast from 39 states and Canada. Cruisin' started yesterday and runs through Sunday, Oct. 14.
Rhonda Miller. MPB News. Biloxi.
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