Cruisin' gets rolling and downtown Gulfport takes center stage.

By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Cruisin' the Coast is officially rolling through South Mississippi. The weeklong celebration kicked off with two events both in Gulfport. First, a cruise-in at Hardy Court plaza, then a classic car parade through downtown. City officials said Cruisin' is the perfect time to showcase the area's rebirth.

Wayne Ahrens is from McHenry. Kelly Keys is from Slidell. A few years ago their love of classic cars brought them to Cruisin the Coast. They've been friends ever since.

"Come down and meet people you never thought you'd ever run into," said Keys. "We were parking in a camp ground right beside each other and became good friends. We do this every year."

Ahrens said, "Because you get to meet a lot of nice people. We have fun running around, talking to one another, seeing what they've done to this car and that car."

Gulfport officials said Cruisin' the Coast is a perfect way to introduce out-of-towners to the downtown.

"It's not often you get this national stage with people from all over the country," said Gulfport Main Street Director Lisa Bradley." We wanted them to see our downtown and enjoy it as much as we are. All the bars and restaurants are open. This beautiful Lighthouse Park at Hancock Bank is available to us. It's really just set the stage for a great place for this event."

Long time cruisers said they don't need convincing that the Mississippi Coast has plenty to offer visitors. They said when it comes to classic car shows, Cruisin' the Coast is the king.

Doris Williams of Arlington Texas said," The people. The fun. The cars. Everybody is friendly and everybody is here for the same reason. To see the cars and to visit people. There's no comparison for us. This is just absolute the tops. We brought a friend with us this year. "

"This venue offers nothing nobody else can touch," said Keys. "You go to a car show, and everybody talks about these big ones. But you sit in a parking lot for a two or three days and that's it. But here, this Gulf Coast has got it going."

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