One of the original Cruisin' venues continues to attract large crowds

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Car lovers took over Bay St. Louis streets, restaurants and shops Friday.

"I think Bay St. Louis is starting to be a premier festival venue in all of the Gulf Coast," Bay St. Louis Mayor Les Fillingame said. "The amount of cruisers that come to Bay St. Louis by choice and spend most of their weekend with us, that's all we can ask."

Bay St. Louis is one of the original Cruisin' venues, although it is not the same city antique cars first strolled through in 1996.

"Since the days of Katrina, we have been a little further along in not just the recovery, but the rebuilding. So every year we have something significantly more to offer and the cruisers take full advantage of it," Fillingame said.

This event is vital to Bay St. Louis.

"It has put us on the map," Myrna Green with the Hancock County Tourism Bureau said.

With thousands flocking downtown, it is a prime opportunity for the city to showcase what it has to offer tourists.

"We have people all the time in our visitors center over in the Depot tell us we were here for Cruisin' and we loved it, we are back," Green said.

It seems the city is doing something right because it is getting rave reviews from cruisers.

"We love Bay St. Louis," Clovis Reed said. "It has such a unique character all its own; we wouldn't want to be anywhere else."

"Love Bay St. Louis, the best of all. It's just been wonderful," Shelia Reed said. "The people are great here and everyone is parking their car walking. It's just a lot of fun."

Next year Bay St. Louis will have another attraction, the harbor. The mayor expects it will make Bay St. Louis an even more popular venue because car fanatics will be able to travel by land or by water.

"The harbor is going to be the cream of the whole event," Fillingame said. "There will be standing room, floating room only in the harbor."

The harbor was expected to be complete by May of next year, but work is ahead of schedule and it may be open before then.

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