By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief
Cruisin’ The Coast is the annual gathering in which thousands of owners of vintage cars lollygag their way on the beachfront road known as Highway 90, which includes Biloxi and Gulfport.
The neighboring cities are the epicenters of the event, and the participants are called Cruisers.
Who are the Cruisers? For the most part, they are out-of-towners, freeloaders, carpetbaggers, vagabonds, scalawags, ne’er-do-wells, squatters, codswallows and homesteaders who make it a pain in the ass for me to get where I need go on Highway 90. I’m forced to take back roads or I just stay at home, suffering in silence, until the traffic is unjammed.
A lot of the Cruisers look old: 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s. Head out on the highway lookin’ for adventure? More like lookin’ for dentures.
If it could be a movie, Cruisin’ The Coast would be titled “My American Graffiti Nightmare.” Early ’60s nostalgia meets 21st-century reality.
The young blonde from decades past driving a Thunderbird in Southern California in 1962 now looks like an octogenarian who can barely stay awake at 8 p.m. while cruising in a shiny super-stock Dodge from DeBuys Road to Courthouse Road. Go, Granny, go? I don’t think so.
The onlookers aggravate me, too. They park their campers on hallowed beachfront ground made vacant because of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. They are robbing our land for their enjoyment, which is to sit in their folding chairs on the north side of 90 and drink an X amount of beers as they watch cars pass by.
The weather is great this time of year. It’s cool with bright blue skies and little humidity. The problem is we don’t get to take advantage of it. It is wasted on all the damn visitors.
Residents, excluding me, and businesses welcome the Cruisin’ influx. The city of Gulfport has sent out crews to clear sand from the sidewalks along 90 to accommodate the out-of-towners. The city seems to care more about its visitors than its own residents.
Believe me. I won’t see crews clearing sidewalks any other time.
My message to the local who embrace Cruisin’: Curb your enthusiasm. The event is not fun for the rest of us. For eight days, we will air our grievances. It’s our Fall Festivus.
This year’s Cruisin’ is Oct. 1-8.
You know what my favorite day will be?
It will be the day after.
Oct. 9. I’m circling it on my calendar.