2006 Cruisin' the Coast
This is the 10th annual Cruisin' the Coast event, with nearly 4,000 participants preregistered with more to come as the weeklong cruisin' takes place. Even though the Coast still looks devastated from Katrina, more than a year after the hurricane, cruisers are here to enjoy the Coast and cars.
Cruisin' the Coast skipped last year due to the hurricane. The annual event is held each October and draws thousands of car lovers and fans from across the country. The event has been described as a Mardi Gras on wheels and is one of the premiere big tourism events of the fall season.
Cruisers will be visiting Coast cities with special cruisin' events and driving up and down the Katrina-devastated beach highway. Many visitors are already commenting on how almost all the beachfront landmarks are gone. They will also also have to go a bit inland to get gasoline. Not a single gas station has been rebuilt on the entire beach Highway 90 from Biloxi to Pass Christian.
There is also the challenge to find a place to stay. Only about half of the Coast's hotel and motel rooms are available. Many are staying in campers and motorhomes, or motels inland. But the event is packing the Coast's casino hotels, which have reopened in time for the event. The Coast's casinos have special events scheduled all this week for cruisers.
Area police officers are on hand to control traffic but they are enjoying the cars and visitors too. Many of the cars in the event are high-powered, and each year you can count on burnouts and with some short bursts of speed by participants. Though cruisin' organizers say that any participate caught doing burnouts or operating their cars inappropriately will be asked to leave.
Cruisin' the Coast has a huge economic impact. Even though there will likely be fewer participants this year, cruisin' officials expect Cruisin' the Coast will pump $10 million to $12 million into the local economy.
For the most part, Cruisin' the Coast is a family affair. There is just something about brightly painted cars that kids enjoy, and that includes children too.
The following is a picture story of the first day of the event: