BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The cars arrived like football stars running out onto the field on the big day, but in this case, it's still the preseason.
Just days before the official kick off to Cruisin' the Coast, one of the most iconic souvenir stores in South Mississippi decided to join in on the fun with the Sharkheads Sun & Sand Block Party.
Coordinator Scott Turan, who has been with Sharkheads for 15 years, said this event has several purposes. One is to encourage other businesses to benefit even longer from Cruisin' the Coast, and another is to provide something for the early cruisers to do.
"All our cruisers are coming in from out of town. I met a couple last night that's been here three weeks. The weather's beautiful. They've got their rides cleaned up and ready to go, and they want to show," said Turan.
The free event featured music, barbecue, vendors, plenty of conversation and 20 plus cars underneath the store.
Steve DiBerardino, from near Houston, TX, has been driving his 1937 Chevrolet convertible to Cruisin' since 2005. Every year, he arrives about a week early to catch events like the block party as well as other amenities.
"It gives us a little more time to relax, get a better opportunity to cruise the boulevard because the traffic is not near as heavy," DiBerardino said. "We like coming over early, because we can do other things that you can't do during Cruisin' the Coast."
Cruisin' the Coast officials estimate there will be 8,000 participants this year.
The first official event begins Sunday with a Cruise In and View the Cruise in Gulfport and two new events in Pascagoula; Bachtoberfest and Goula Cruise.
This is the first time as a spectator for Johnny Burgess of Jackson. He and his new wife decided to make the first part of their honeymoon a Cruisin' the Coast experience.
"I love the inside part, the engine, the power from it," Burgess said. "I like the colors, and I like how fast the car looks."