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Cruisin’ the Coast wraps up with big expectations for next year

Car lovers across the region now cruise back to reality after more than a week of Cruisin’ the...
Car lovers across the region now cruise back to reality after more than a week of Cruisin’ the Coast.(Andres Fuentes)
Published: Oct. 10, 2021 at 2:50 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Car lovers across the region now cruise back to reality after more than a week of Cruisin’ the Coast. But before thousands of car enthusiasts packed up for home, many trickled back into Centennial Plaza for the last full day of festivities.

A non-denominational prayer service kicked off Sunday morning, with organizers giving thanks for the successes seen in 2021. For the event’s 25th anniversary, 9,497 registered cars spent time in the coastal towns between Bay St. Louis and Pascagoula.

“We’re grateful for you for making this the number one classic car show in America year after year,” Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes said.

Hundred of people huddled in front of the stage, patiently waiting to see if they were raffle winners. Ralph Martin from Kiln won the Make-a-Wish raffle, winning the special 1957 Chevy Bel Air Convertible which organizers named “Belle.”

And because the demand for tickets was so high, Cruisin’ officials gave the foundation two checks totaling at 40-thousand dollars.

“We did not expect the bonus check,” South Mississippi Make-a-Wish Director Shellie Moses said. “We knew that ticket sales have been tremendous this year. We knew Belle was quite popular but we did not know what we would be getting at the end of the day, so we are very thankful for Cruisin’ the Coast and definitely that $40,000. It will come in handy.”

Early bird and survey raffles were also held, with thousands of dollars going back to cruisers this year. But organizers didn’t forget about the volunteers that help run the show.

11 South Mississippi car clubs partner with Cruisin’ to get everything set up, running and then taken down. Each club nominated someone to be recognized on stage and be awarded a plaque and Jimmie Clark with the Coast Cruisers won the Gene Oswalt Volunteer of the Year Award.

“I’ve been with Cruisin’ the Coast for all the 25 years, and this is the best so far,” he said.

With all the fun and generosity for the special milestone year, organizers and cruisers expect the same energy for next year.

“We have 813 people registered for 2022, so we are excited about that,” said Chevis Swetman, a member of the board of directors.

Gulfport resident Brenda Cole is a part of that number, hoping for another week of memories next year.

“We pray for wonderful weather, pray for everyone to have a safe trip coming and going home,” she said. “We will have more fun.”

She also expects to see even more new cars and new faces.

“We will have 10,000 before you know it,” she said. “We’ll top it.”

Cruisin’ the Coast 2022 will be from October 2nd until the 9th.

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