A thriving downtown Long Beach has high hopes for Cruisin'

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - There's been a lot of anticipation for Cruisin' the Coast this year in Long Beach. That's because downtown has more businesses now than ever before.

Hurricane Katrina devastated Jeff Davis Avenue. Since then, businesses have slowly rebuilt. Now with more than 12 business thriving, and a beautiful park tucked beside the street, Cruisin the Coast 2013 has all kinds of new possibilities in Long Beach.

"We were one of the first ones to build back," said John Bull, owner of Bull's Restaurant. "Of course, a few other ones have still been here after the storm, but we were the first ones to build back on Jeff Davis."

Bull is familiar with the excitement of Cruisin' the Coast, but he's unfamiliar with the booming business that comes from cruisers. He feels confident that's all about to change.

"Business is needing to grow and it's a perfect time of the year for it to happen. But I think we'll have a wonderful season for this," said Bull.

Other business owners say this is this first year Jeff Davis Avenue has really been alive for Cruisin' the Coast.

"Yea, it's going to be a good year for us because I think we're going to have more people this year than the last year," said Tere Sandoval, manager of Harbor View Cafe.

"I think it looks a lot better than it ever did before," said manager of Bankhouse Coffee Brennan Montella. "We have more businesses. I think that the turnout is going to be a lot better."

A coffee shop, restaurants and a new town green are all the evidence Rick Pine needs to say Long Beach is the best place to kick off Cruisin' the Coast.

"Long Beach has really done a great job with Jeff Davis Avenue since Hurricane Katrina," said Pine. "They've really made it a nice place to come and enjoy events like this."

Pine calls himself a Cruisin' the Coast veteran and says Long Beach is his favorite place to enjoy the festivities.

"We get here to enjoy the Long Beach parade every year," said Pine. "We come early, get a good parking space, eat lunch and enjoy the parade."

Business owners said not only is Cruisin' the Coast going to do wonders for business, but they say more than that, it's going to highlight the beauty of Long Beach.

"It's a family community, great schools, fun people- just overall, a great time over here," said Bull.

"We have a lot of businesses down here and great food and hopefully it will just draw more of a crowd, people will realize what we have. Long Beach has a lot to offer now," said Montella.

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