Downtown block party shatters attendance records

Biloxi Police say about 4,000 Cruisin’ cars – hundreds more than in past years – were in downtown Biloxi this morning through mid-afternoon for the city’s annual Cruisin’ the Coast block party.

Several thousand people meandered their way admiringly through the line of cars, which were parked side-by-side on many downtown streets that were closed especially for the occasion. Police said all available streets and many vacant lots were used to display cars.

“Cruisin’ has been around for 16 years, and we’ve been doing this block party for 10 years, and this one was the best so far,” said Kay Miller of Biloxi Main Street, an organization that promotes downtown Biloxi. “We’ve gotten great reviews from everyone. They loved the weather, they loved the smell of good Biloxi food in the air, and we even ran into a few who called themselves Cruisin’ rookies who were from Canada and loved our French-Canadian roots.”

Two entertainment stages – one on the Town Green and one across from City Hall – provided a continuous lineup of entertainment, including an Elvis impersonator, Biloxi High School drama students performing Broadway tunes, and a doo-wop group of Peoples Bank employees. Some say a couple of restaurants ran out of items from their breakfast menus because of the onslaught in the downtown area.

“We had more cars lined up on the outlying streets than we’d ever had,” Police Chief John Miller said. “Our traffic people had them double-stacked on many streets, and we also had more cars filling up the empty lots in some areas of downtown. We used more space than we have ever used, but it seemed like everything went very well.

“We had a couple of traffic issues, which is understandable considering the number of vehicles.”

Mayor A.J. Holloway surveyed the lineup early in the day and again as he made his way to Mary Mahoney’s Old French Hosue Restaurant for a noontime speaking engagement.

“It looked like it was going to be a large crowd from the very beginning,” the mayor said. “I spoke to some people who said this was this first time, and a number of others who had been coming for years. We made sure to welcome all of them.”

See the photos: To see nearly 200 pictures from today’s Downtown Biloxi Block Party, click here.