GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Flashy paint jobs, unique hood ornaments and old school mechanics have taken over South Mississippi to start a weeklong celebration of all things cars. Going on its 15th year, Cruisin' the Coast has become a crowd favorite.
"It's the best show in the world. We enjoy it. We stay for the whole week," said cruiser Donald LaPorte. "There's stuff going on every day for a whole week. The things that are going on, it's not like the other shows we go to."
"Everything is great about it. It brings out people that don't normally get out and they get to meet people from all over the United States," said returning cruiser Henry Cockerham.
The week-long car show is a chance for car enthusiasts to show their stuff and for spectators to check out their dream car.
"This is a good hobby. You have a lot of people that have that hobby. You have a lot of people who like to think or wish they could get into it. So, you have a lot of fantasies also," said Cruisin' staff member Allen Strange.
The hobby of restoring cars is an investment of time, money and old fashion nostalgia.
"Me and my wife had a car like this when we were dating. I sold it, because we got married and couldn't afford to keep it. I was sorry I ever got rid of it and made me want to another one," said LaPorte about his 1940 Ford Coupe.
For cruisers, swapping stories is one of the best parts of the week. However, the focus is always on one thing.
"I love the cars. The people are real nice, they're real friendly, but the cars are just fantastic," said Cockerham.
Cruisin' the Coast isn't just about fun. It's a huge boost to the local economy as well. Hotels and tourist attractions will be flooded with the expected 5,000 cruisers.
For businesses that revolve around car maintenance, this week is better than Christmas.
"We'll see a lot of activity on the beach here with the cruisers, as well as, the ones coming in with the regular cars not being a classic car," said Robert Humphries, owner of Coast to Coast Detailing.
To help cruisers keep their cars looking their best, Coast to Coast Detailing capitalizes on the number of cars in town by offering services beach side.
During a normal week Coast to Coast Detailing details around 100 cars. During Cruisin' the Coast, business quadruples. The company even has its phones manned around the clock to take customers.
The fun is what keeps folks coming back, and the local benefits are what have organizers planning the event year round.
For a full schedule, click here.