By Keith Burton
Despite the huge changes in the appearance of the Coast since Hurricane Katrina, participants in the 2006 Cruisin' the Coast are finding ways to enjoy themselves. But it is definitely harder for participants to find each other. Landmarks that they once used to mark where to meet along the Beach Highway are no longer there. That has resulted in people describing where to meet in the term of "what used to be." Directions come in the form of, "Do you remember where the Biloxi Hooters used to be? We are in the parking lot."
Tuesday, hundreds of Cruisers cruised into an event at the Biloxi VA, the site of the Biloxi National Cemetery. Veterans at the hospital there enjoyed looking at the classic cars and hot rods. Cruisers also had a band at the site and danced and shared cruisin' stories. Later that night, nearly 3,000 cruisers attended a cruise-in party at the parking lot of the Pass Christian Wal-Mart. The parking lot had space for 800 cars, but many participants lined U.S. 90 for a half-mile east and west of the site. It is with some poignancy that the Wal-Mart store is among the structures that "used to be" on the Coast.
All along U.S. 90, the beach highway, cruisers are establishing little cruise-in sites with a pavilion tent and barbecue to feed visitors. Before the hurricane, these road- side sites had businesses that participated also. But for this year, and until the area recovers, these sites are in front of slabs.
One thing the cruiser' have found out, there are no gas stations yet built on the beach highway. GCN did find one pump on the Biloxi beach though. An antique Texaco pump looked as if it was filling up some classic Corvettes. But it was just for show. The pump was one that was once in front of a gas station in Dallas, Texas in the 1960's and restored as an antique. It still had the old price.
Today, cruisers are going to be packing Biloxi's downtown for a block party among the event and more music and festivities at the main site at what "used to be" the Rice Pavilion in Gulfport. A swap meet is also being held at the Coast Coliseum. Cruisers are also packing the area's casinos and restaurants. This is the 10th annual Cruisin' the Coast event, with nearly 4,000 participants preregistered with more to come as the weeklong cruisin' takes place.
The following are some pictures of Tuesday's events: