Hotels Stayed Busy During Cruisin The Coast - - The News for South Mississippi

Hotels Stayed Busy During Cruisin The Coast

The parking lot at Peter Magee's Gulfport hotel was finally empty. The previous seven days, Cruisin the Coast guests sat there and marveled at the classic cars driving up and down Highway 90. "We really couldn't have asked for a better response from our guests," said Magee.

The week long party helped Magee forget about Katrina, and the previous 13 months of agony. "It did," he said. "One, it brought back some normalcy to the area. And two, as our business has been declining a little bit as time went on, it brought a little excitement back to the area."

Mike Lightner captured some of that excitement with his digital camera. Lightner took pictures of the cars parked at his D'Iberville hotel. "It came at a perfect time for us, because the business had dropped off construction wise for us," he said. "It did what it did every year."

It helped local hotels fill their properties during a traditionally slow time of the year. However, according to the state's hotel motel association, not every room got used. In fact, people who came down here without reservations were able to find a place to stay. Lightner made sure a few of his rooms over the weekend were empty, so he could handle any late arrivals. His plan worked to perfection. "We were sold out Friday and Saturday night. And quite a few rooms earlier through the week, too," he said.

That answer was why tourism leaders started Cruisin the Coast a decade ago -- to fill hotel rooms.

Despite a hurricane and a one year delay, the event seemed to be firing on all cylinders again. "I heard about previous Cruisins," Magee said. "I was expecting 50%-60% turnout. It seems like it was a lot better than that. I know we did as well as we expected to do."

Next year's classic car showcase starts on September 30th. And it runs through October seventh. And the car buffs can't wait. One man told Lightner he was "ready to roll right back next year." In its 10 previous years, Cruisin the Coast has never started in September. It will next year, so the event can run through Columbus Day weekend.

By Brad Kessie

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