Cruisin Cars Make Their First Pit Stops

Classic cars rolled into town and headed right to a Rice Pavilion parking lot. Hundreds of early arrivals tried to beat the rush and check in as soon as Cruisin the Coast opened its registration tables. Mary Currie was a volunteer at one of those tables. She had a phrase to describe the rather chaotic Rice Pavilion scene. She called it, "Organized pandemonium."

Two of the people in Currie's line were Neil and Darlene Young. Somehow, the Youngs and their 1955 Chevrolet made it out of storm ravaged Florida.

"Actually this is a good relief. It's a well taken vacation," Darlene Young said. "After four hurricanes, you have to have something."

Hurricane damage forced several of the Youngs' travel companions to skip this year's Cruisin the Coast celebration. The Youngs will deal with their wreck back home after they show off their rebuilt wreck.

"We decided that we couldn't get a hold of the insurance company, couldn't get a hold of the adjusters," said Young. "So we might as well just keep our trip that we planned to do."

Cruisin the Coast connects people like the Youngs, or Don Drunert to the past.

"It just makes it a little more fun," said Drunert, while he cleaned the chrome on his 1934 Ford.

According to the Missouri man, the ninth annual showcase builds friendships that should last longer than these cars stay on the road.

"You meet all kinds of great people, just kind of an extended family," he said. "You come down and do things together, vacations. Just get to the point where it's a lot of fun, do a little retirement trip every now and then."

Drunert's trip will last nine days, so he can take in the entire Cruisin the Coast party. His condo is right on Highway 90.

According to Mary Currie, that's one of the variables that brings an estimated 6,000 car buffs to South Mississippi's shoreline.

"Everybody you talk to," the volunteer said, "that's the first thing they talk about is our beautiful beaches that we have to drive up and down."

Cruisin the Coast runs through Sunday.