Welcome to America’s Largest Block Party. Cruisin’ The Coast® began in 1996 as a festival to celebrate antique, classic and hot rod vehicles, nostalgic music and related events. 374 vehicles registered that first year and in 2015 we had 7,639 registered vehicles. Car enthusiasts from 41 states plus Canada and Sweden drive to the Mississippi Gulf Coast once a year to showcase their rides and to cruise our beautiful 30-mile stretch of beachside highway with designated stops in Bay St. Louis, Biloxi, D’Iberville, Gulfport, Pass Christian and Ocean Springs.
Each venue is set up as a mini festival with a stage for live bands, reserved parking for registered cruisers, spectator parking, and vendors for food and event merchandise. Registered cruisers will receive an ID card in their registration packets to exhibit all week in their car’s front window; this ID allows entry into the venues where reserved parking is available. A program with maps will also be part of the registration packet so cruisers can plan their individual schedules as this is an open cruise – events are scheduled and you decide which ones you are interested in attending. Our week long event includes cruise-ins, a Salute To Our Veterans event, car auction, swap meet, car corral, and a parade. Spectators are welcome and will find that our cruisers love to talk “old cars.”
Cruisin’ The Coast® has 11 Host Car Clubs providing over 700 volunteers who help with registering vehicles, directing cars at the venues, giving directions, and welcoming our guests. These are just the jobs cruisers see. There are hundreds of behind the scenes and pre-event activities that our volunteers help with all year long. When you see someone in a bright yellow staff shirt – that is a fellow car lover who is donating time to make this a fun event for all. If you get a chance you may want to say thank you to a volunteer during your visit.
Cruisin’ The Coast® has become the biggest special event in the state of Mississippi. As Cruisin’ The Coast® has grown, the honors and awards have followed suit. Cruisin’ The Coast® received the Governor’s Excellence in Tourism Award as Festival/Event of the Year in the State of Mississippi (by Jarvis Brannon). Cruisin’ The Coast® was also named the recipient of the “Shining Example Award” for Best Festival/Event of the year by the Southeast Tourism Society, one of the “100 Events for the Year” for 2001 and in 2011 by the American Bus Association and was also named a Southern Travel Treasure by AAA’s magazine, AAA Southern Traveler. In 2007, the Automotive Restoration Market named Cruisin’ The Coast the 2007 Restoration Event of the Year.
We want to thank all of our volunteers, sponsors, participating vendors, and you, the car enthusiasts, who have made Cruisin’ The Coast® the success story it is.
All photos taken by Richard A. Kopp