The 23rd annual Cruisin' the Coast -- billed as "America's Largest Block Party" -- continues today in Bay St. Louis and Pass Christian.
"This really is the biggest turn-out we've ever had," Hancock Tourism Bureau Director Myrna Green said Friday, “and the Cruisers actually rave about how much they love Bay St. Louis.”
CTC officials said Friday that it is the biggest turn-out in Cruisin' history. This year's Cruisin' had 8,590 vehicles registered as of Thursday, breaking last year's record of 8,328.
Diamondhead also saw a record number of Cruisers for its seventh annual "Blessing of the Classics," organizers said.
"It’s getting more and more attention every year,” event organizer Mark Duffy said. “What I’ve noticed more than anything, it’s that more and more of the Diamondhead residents are coming out to watch the cars go by. It’s a big event.”
There's also a record number of Cruisers actually going into the shops and restaurants in Old Town this week, Green said.
“And the merchants love it,” Hancock Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tish Williams said.
Green said Bay St. Louis businesses -- particular Old Town merchants -- count the annual Cruisin’ the Coast weekend among their most profitable time-periods all year long.
“It’s neck-and-neck with Christmas time,” she said.
One of the ways Hancock Tourism and the Old Town merchants help draw the Cruisers here from Cruisin’ Central in Gulfport is offering each participant a free gift. The gift offer goes in each Cruiser’s packet he or she receives from the Cruisin’ organizers, and the Cruisers bring the offer to the Hancock Tourism tent. From there, they get a number drawn from a basket that leads them to a participating merchant who will give them the gift item.
“The merchants sponsor it, and it really works,” Green said. "We're doing raffles" for the Cruisers," Green said. “It's really making a difference because its getting the people in the shops."
The action is scheduled to continue in the Bay and Pass Christian today from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Local Cruisin’ venue entertainment scheduled today includes the following:
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
• 11 a.m.-Noon – Garry Wesley
• 1-2 p.m. – Tommy Morse Band
• 3-4:30 p.m. – Bennie & The Jets (Rocketman Tribute)
• 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.