Post-Katrina Cruisin' The Coast A Big Success - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Post-Katrina Cruisin' The Coast A Big Success

Being a Katrina baby, it makes sense the first post Katrina Cruisin the Coast should be one year old Kelton Davis's first.  

"Yes sir," says Billy Hoodof Ellisville. "He's my grandson. He likes to cruise too."

Like Grandpa and like grandson, tens of thousands joined them this week for Cruisin the Coast's 10th anniversary celebration.  

"I was so afraid that there wouldn't be enough show up to really keep the event going," says Alan Kilpatrick of Saucier. "But I believe people have just went beyond what we expected."

It's not the first time four year cruisin veteran Alan Kilpatrick has been wrong.

"No, it's not the first time I've been wrong," says Kilpatrick. "But I'm sure glad I was wrong this time because we needed it."

So how successful has the return of Cruisin the Coast been?

Well, already, more than a thousand of this years participants have signed up to come back next year.  

"We had over 45 hundred and 15 cars registered which is about 8 percent down," says founder and organizer Gene Oswalt.  "To be 8 percent down after what we've been through down here is miraculous."

Oswalt says another miraculous number is the 10 to 12 million dollar impact he estimates this years cruise will have on the local economy.  

"I'm excited and gratified that people from all over the country,. 30 states and Canada,. still had enough faith to come back to South Mississippi."

And for people like Bob Barnes, who lost his New Orleans home to Katrina but saved his car, coming back for Cruisin is a lot like coming home.  

"It feels fantastic," says Barnes. "Believe me, we had a great time. Wouldn't miss it for the world. Highway 90 was like Mardi Gras last night. We had a great time."

by Don Culpepper

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