Cruisers Head For Home

Officials from Cruisin' the Coast say they'll ask the Gulfport City Council for more money towards next year's Cruisin' budget.

Earlier this year the council decided to give the car show $5,000 although organizers had asked for five times that amount. They say a contribution to Cruisin' is an investment into the Coast economy since this year's event had a 10 million dollar impact. Officials are not sure just when they will go before the council.

On Sunday thousands of classic cars owners packed up and headed for home. Officials say the event has grown tremendous since 1996 from just under 400 cars the first year to more than 4,000 entries this year.

Stuart Elliot's 1955 Bel Air Sedan met more than a few road blocks before making it's way to Cruisin' the Coast. However, he says getting the chance to attend one of the country's largest car shows makes everything worth the ride.

"Basically it's been a dream for me," Elliot said. "You see posters as a kid of cars you'd love to see, and I come down here and I just see them. I've seen cars down here I've only seen on a poster just cruising by me. I'd love to own every single one of these cars out here."

Organizers say about 300 more people cruised the coast this year than last. Some tourists say they are already revving up plans to return next year.

Wayne Burns of Harvey, La., already scheduled his vacation around next year's Cruisin'.

"We loved it. We loved it last year and we love it this year. It was super great. I like all the people, the different people, the cars, especially the cars."

As of noon on Sunday about 600 people had pre-registered for next year's car show. However, visitors say you don't have to be a classic car owner to enjoy the only have to be a classic car lover.

by Danielle Thomas