Cruisin’ the Coast: Salute to our Veterans
Every year our veterans are honored during Cruisin’ the Coast with a special event dedicated to those who fought for our country. Hundreds of classic cars pulled into Centennial Plaza in Gulfport for the annual Salute to our Veterans.
Salute to our Veterans honors those who have fought for our country, the annual Cruisin’ the Coast event is close to Vietnam Veteran James Thomas’ heart. The Gulfport resident tells News 25 there was a time when he didn’t feel thanked for his service. “I was spit at. I was talked about. I was trashed for serving my country.”
Veterans and their families filled the grounds at Centennial Plaza. Hundreds of cars, live entertainment, and food: the event is James’ favorite time to show off his Shelby Cobra. “I probably own eight cars and a lot of old motorcycles.”
James says 15 years ago he changed everything about his car. “Ripped the motor out of it, the transmission out of it.”
Because he wanted it to go fast, that’s also why it says “U lose” on the license plate. “In fifth gear, it pulls strong. I figure 180, I’m playing with death. So I back down at 180,” said James.
Jim Pippins, a veteran from Panama City Beach, says his drive from Florida is worth seeing all the different cars. “No two seem to be completely alike. They all have their individual tastes, touches, feels.”
One unique car at Salute to our Veterans was one dedicated to all the forces that helped during 9/11 and a tribute to all those who died. Civil Air Patrolman Pat Yglesias said, “I try to park it up here in the front so they can all look at it.”
A woman stopped by the car who was on the 63rd flood when the plane crashed into one of the towers on September 11th, 2001. “She just broke down and started crying and that’s what it’s all about, just trying to make people remember what happened,” said Yglesias.
“To get out here and talk to the veterans that have put their heart and soul in these cars, it doesn’t get any better.”