Cruisin Organizers Prepare For Post-Katrina Block Party - - The News for South Mississippi

Cruisin Organizers Prepare For Post-Katrina Block Party

There won't be a Cruisin the Coast kickoff parade in Long Beach next week. And there won't be as many cars in town as there were in the year before Katrina. But from all indications, Cruisin the Coast organizers seem more determined than ever to jump start an event that Katrina temporarily derailed.

Becky Burdeshaw is the registration director for next week's Cruisin the Coast.

"If they're coming down here for Cruisin, they know they have to cruise their cars," she said.

And cruising is exactly what Charly Miller wants to do. The Gulfport man can't wait to cruise the coast in his 1957 Ford Fairlane.

"I have great expectations," he said while sitting in his yellow and brown painted classic.

Burdeshaw shares that enthusiasm with every person who calls her at the Cruisin the Coast headquarters. But once she hangs up, her answers seem a bit more reserved. She admits she's slightly nervous about how car buffs will react to cruising venue that are surrounded by hurricane debris. She wonders how many will honor their reservations.

"It's like giving a party and hoping everybody shows up," she said.

While she talked, volunteers printed up thousands of registration cards for the area's first block party since Katrina.

"It's going to be a different type of cruising for them. But most people understand," she said.

The car owners realize their sparkling chrome fenders, and their mint condition paint jobs will reflect a lot of the devastation that forced the cancellation of last year's vintage car showcase.

"Katrina wouldn't let us have it. So we're having it now," Burdeshaw said.

Just like the classic cars, the cruisin board has found a way to turn back the hands of time. Next week will be like 2005, without the hurricane. If you want proof, just check out the merchandise. The shirts all have last year's dates on them. So does the annual poster. "Rather than going to the cost of having everything reprinted, we just took 2005 merchandise and 05s logo and just decided to do the logo on the sleeve and transfer everything over," Burdeshaw said.

The logo on the sleeve has an American flag on it, the 2006 dates, plus the words "can't beat our cruisin spirit."

"It gives everybody a chance to have some 05 stuff as well as 06 stuff," Burdeshaw said.

So one car show in October will celebrate two years on the coast. It will remember 2005, the year when engines were silenced. And will celebrate 2006, the recovery year that has car buffs like Charly Miller revving his engine for a tenth time since 1996.

"I'm glad to see it back personally," Miller said. "I enjoy working with the people, because we all have the same thing in common, we like cars."

Just under 4,000 classic car owners pre-registered for Cruisin the Coast.

The vintage cars will be in town from October 1-8. And according to hotel reservation clerks, people waiting until the last minute make Cruisin the Coast plan will be able to find a place to stay.

by Brad Kessie

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