GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Preparations for the 24th annual Cruisin' the Coast are shifting into high gear. This week, tents are going up and classic cars will soon start arriving.
The week-long event is critical to some local businesses. Over the next week, classic cars, RVs and thousands of people will begin to show up on the Coast.
Over at Centennial Plaza, the tents are going up for what will soon be Cruisin' Central.
“Everything is looking good. Everyone is asking me, are you ready? I still have four or five days left, so we’re going to work on our schedule. Yes, we’re on schedule and things are looking good,” said Cruisin' the Coast CEO Woody Bailey.
Over at ABC Rental, David Delk is juggling a busy schedule. He provides tents for official Cruisin' events, classic car groups and people who set up with family and friends on Highway 90 for the best view on the Coast.
“We’ve sold out on our tents. We have 42 tents going out. We had to make sure everything is being staged. We started today to make sure we’re ready to go. We go out and hit the Coast,” Delk said.
Obviously, hotels and restaurants profit from America’s Largest Block Party every October. Private landowners lease lots to visitors and locals. As the pre-event setup continues this week, the economic impact begins to build.
According to the latest study, Cruisin' generates $26 million for the Coast, and that means a lot for an array of businesses.
“I have a lot of people every year who come up to me and say thank you for doing Cruisin'. This helps our business tremendously. The week of Cruisin' is one of the biggest weeks of the year for some of these businesses,” Bailey said.
Delk has had a tough 2020 with the pandemic taking a bite out of his business with so few events being held. With the announcement that Cruisin' would be back, it’s given him a chance to recover some of his losses.
“We have jumped through a fire ring trying to get ready. It’s great because we need the business. We’re a small company,” Delk said.
Officially, Cruisin' the Coast starts Sunday. Cruisin' Central opens at Centennial plaza Monday morning.
For the full schedule of Cruisin' the Coast events, check out Gulf Coast Weekend.