Gold Wings Motorcycles Rev Up Coast Economy

The Blansits usually have a devil of a time doing family things. That's why they invest so much time and effort into their Gold Wing vacations. Calvin Blansit said both he and his wife work in trucking companies, "So this is some way to get out and have a little bit of enjoyment."

The Blansits own two motorcycles. And their 11 year old son Kenneth is the youngest member of Alabama's Gold Wing organization. "It's fun to ride them," the younger Blansit said.

This annual gathering of Gold Wing owners showcased bikes with some unique decorations hooked to them.

The Turners made their first trip to the Biloxi road rally, specifically to find a new trailer for their bike. Dwight Turner said he had "credit cards, money, checks, whatever it takes." His goal was to buy a new Gold Wing accessory, "and enjoy it for a long time."

As long as the weather cooperates, Mississippi's "Sweet 16 Rally" could attract 4,500 Gold Wing owners. It's a state rally. But it's open to everybody.

That's why Indiana's Jim Howard made his annual 14 hour pilgrimage. "Twelve years in a row," Howard boasted. "I enjoy coming down here. I enjoy the people, and have a good time."

Most of the Gold Wingers riding through Biloxi are staying at area hotels. That's helping the economy during a season when tourism slows down. Gregg Harbison is one of the state directors of the Gold Wing group. "They love the casinos, they love the food, they love the atmosphere. It's just great," he said. Harbison said the coast is the perfect place for a Gold Wing rally. "It's a drawing card that's hard to beat. Nobody else has it. Mississippi's so fortunate that we have this available to us."

The Gold Wings will be on the coast through Sunday.