The 23rd annual Cruisin’ the Coast hits Hancock County Wednesday, Oct. 9.

Although the 23rd annual Cruisin' the Coast doesn't officially begin in Hancock County until Wednesday, the Cruisers have already been burning up Hancock's highways.

"Somebody made a comment to me today that Old Town Bay St. Louis last night looked like Cruisin' was already happening here, which is a really good thing," Hancock Tourism Director Myrna Green said Tuesday.

"It's really shaping up to be one of the most exciting and biggest and best ones we've had so far. The people have been coming earlier and staying longer."

That's great news for local merchants, Green said, who have been hurting for the past few months because of the closure of Gulf Coast beaches due to a toxic algal bloom.

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality officially lifted all closure notices last Friday.

Party Time

Cruisin' the Coast -- billed by its organizers as "America's Largest Block Party" -- officially began Oct. 6 in Gulfport. Car enthusiasts from 41 states plus Puerto Rico, Canada and Sweden drive to the Mississippi Gulf Coast once a year to showcase their rides and to cruise our beautiful 30-mile stretch of beachside highway with designated stops in Bay St. Louis, Diamondhead, Biloxi, D’Iberville, Gulfport, Pass Christian and Ocean Springs.

Blessing of the Classics

The first Hancock County venue for this year's event opens today, Wednesday, Oct. 9 -- the seventh annual Blessing of the Classics in Diamondhead.

Mark Duffy, founder and chairman of the event for the city, said registered vehicles are invited to the staging area on the south side of Diamondhead beginning at noon.

At 3 p.m., they will drive their rides around a scenic route on Diamondhead Drive East and Lanai Drive where they will have their classic cars blessed by priests and pastors from different denominations

Each participating car owner will receive a Blessing of the Classics backpack (while supplies last) and a commemorative certificate.

Last year's Blessing of the Classics was the biggest yet, Duffy said: "The cars just kept coming and coming. You'd have thought we were handing out hundred-dollar bills or something."

This year, he said, the Blessing should be even bigger.

The event will culminate at the Diamondhead Shopping Center with live rock & roll music by Lauren Munsch and Short Circuit, presented by Rouses.

Residents and visitors are invited to meet the classics at the Shopping Center to view the classics and visit local merchants for special offers and discounts.

Cruisin' Old Town

Old Town Bay St. Louis will host cruisers from 9-5 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with live entertainment beginning at 11 a.m. each day.

Over in Pass Christian, the downtown area will also host cruisers from 9-5 p.m.Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with live entertainment beginning at 11 a.m. each day.

On Thursday, Pass Christian will host the third annual "Burn ‘em Up in The Pass!" burn-out event at 2nd Street from 5-8 p.m. The event is open to the first 40 CTC-registered vehicles. Burn Out registration begins at 4 p.m. Live entertainment by Right Lane Bandits, 6-9 p.m.

Courtney Hansen will appear in downtown Pass Christian from 10 a.m.-noon on Thursday; and in Bay St. Louis from 2-4 p.m.

Other local entertainment is as follows:

Thursday, Oct. 10

Cruisin’ Venue Entertainment

Bay St. Louis

• 11 a.m.-Noon – Mr. Saxman

• 1-2 p.m. – Starz

• 3-4:30 p.m. – The Chee-Weez

Pass Christian

• 11 a.m.-Noon – Brandie

• 1-2 p.m. – Tyme

• 3-4:30 p.m. – Na Na Sha

Casino Entertainment

• Dave Mayley Band, 5:30 p.m., Silver Slipper, Beach Bar

• Al “Lil’ Fats” Jackson, 7 p.m., Silver Slipper, Stage Bar

Friday, October 11

• Registration and all Cruisin’ Venues are open 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Sites with bands: Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian, Gulfport Cruise Central, Edgewater Mall, D’Iberville, Ocean Springs, Pascagoula

• 2019 and 2020 Registration continues 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

• Dennis Gage appearances: Bay St. Louis, 9-11 a.m.

• “Pass In The Night,” 5-9 p.m., Pass Christian, Entertainment TBD

Cruisin’ Venue Entertainment

Bay St. Louis

• 11 a.m.-Noon – Figure Eight

• 1-2 p.m. – Cool Rayz

• 3-4:30 p.m. – Tip Tops

Pass Christian

• 11 a.m.-Noon – Deuce Coupe

• 1-2 p.m. – Pat Murphy & Sippiana Soul

• 3-4:30 p.m. – Vince Vance & The Valiants

Casino Entertainment

• The Castaways, 6 p.m., Silver Slipper, Beach Bar

• Al “Lil’ Fats” Jackson, 8 p.m. Silver Slipper, Stage Bar

• Platinum Café, 8 p.m.-midnight, Hollywood Casino

Saturday, October 12

• All Cruisin’ Venues are open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sites with bands:

Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian, Gulfport Cruise Central,

Edgewater Mall, D’Iberville, Ocean Springs, Pascagoula

• 2019 registration, 9 a.m.-noon

• 2020 Registration, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Cruisin’ Venue Entertainment

Bay St. Louis

• 11 a.m.-Noon – Gypsy Rose

• 1-2 p.m. – Pat Murphy & Sippiana Soul

• 3-4:30 p.m. – Na Na Sha

Pass Christian

• 11 a.m.-Noon – Garry Wesley

• 1-2 p.m. – Tommy Morse Band

• 3-4:30 p.m. – Bennie & The Jets (Rocketman Tribute)

Casino Entertainment

• Pat Murphy & Sippiana Soul, 6 p.m., Silver Slipper Beach Bar

Al “Lil’ Fats” Jackson, 8 p.m., Silver Slipper Casino

• Platinum Café, 8 p.m.-midnight, Hollywood Casino

The following street closings are scheduled for Bay St. Louis on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. each day:

• Beach Boulevard, from Ulman Avenue to Court Street.

• Main Street, from Beach Boulevard to Toulme Street.

• Second Street, from State Street Easterbrook.

• Cue and Gex streets at Court Street

• Toulme, from State Street to St. John.

• Federal Street at State Street.

• Depot Way.

Court Street will remain open to the public, one-way from Beach Boulevard to Second Street.

All traffic must exit left at Second Street.

The following streets will be closed at Beach Boulevard and be marked as "No Exit -- Local Traffic Only," at Second Street:

• Bayview Court.

• McDonald Lane.

• Ulman Avenue.

• Carroll Avenue.

• deMontluzin Avenue.

• State Street.

For information while you're in Old Town Bay St. Louis, visit the Hancock Tourism Cruisin' the Coast hospitality tent between the Hancock Bank building and Ellis Realty during Cruisin' entertainment hours.

This year, the Cruisin' the Coast souvenir trailer is going to be on Beach Blvd. in front of Cuz's Old Town Oyster Bar. The live entertainment stage will be at the corner of Beach Blvd. and Court Street.

The free parking garage on Court Street will be open to the public.

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