Coast businesses begin welcoming cruisers to the coast

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Cruisin' The Coast organizers call it "America's Largest Block Party." It's nationally acclaimed event centered around a love for classic cars that has become a huge asset for the Gulf Coast.

"We've got a beautiful day and things are working out just great. We had a big day at Hardy Court this morning and a big day here in Downtown Gulfport," Crusin' Executive Director Woody Bailey said Sunday. "Both sites at one time were actually simultaneously completely filled. We haven't had that happen before, so that means there's a lot of people in town."

With a lot of people, comes a lot of shopping, which then translates into revenue dollars for each city. That positive economic impact is part of what makes the event so valuable to the Gulf Coast.

An official study shows that the total economic impact in 2004 was around $15 million. Last year, it rose to $21.2 million.

"It's really satisfying. When we started this event, we wanted to do something to help the economy of the Gulf Coast. It's a three county event and I like being a part of that," Bailey said.

The out of towners are taking advantage of the what the event's location has to offer. Chris McAnear said he travels in from Louisiana every year. He said he almost immediately noticed the new and improved downtown Gulfport and plans to spend some cash in its unique shops.

"I really like it. It really looks nice. It looks upscale now," Mcnear said.

"It makes me proud that we're able to do something that not only helps us economically, but it's also a lot of fun. Everybody enjoys this event," Bailey said.

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