Panama City Beach, Florida
Article and photos by Larry Crain
Every November for the past 12 years Emerald Coast Cruizin’ has continued to grow by leaps and bounds with more participants, spectators, and big name vendors. This event grows because of a great host city like Panama City Beach, an awesome event site like Aaron Bessant Park and a perfect backdrop for cruisin’ like the beautiful gulf coast beaches.
This six day event kicked off on Monday with the early arrivals being a combination of event vendors coming to start their set up at Aaron Bessant Park and participants taking part in several off site cruises. This trend continued on Tuesday as more vendors and participants rolled into town. By Wednesday Panama City Beach was fast becoming the place to be to cruise your favorite custom, classic or hot rod one last time before old man winter made everyone move indoors.
Wednesday participants were treated to a huge kickoff party at Harley Davidson of Panama City Beach. This party included plenty of room for participant parking, live entertainment along with some refreshments. As the sun went down each night fun activities took place all week long at various local restaurants and Wednesday was no different.
Thursday was the day that the event site at Aaron Bessant Park officially opened for the registered participants and spectators. With around 3,000 vehicles parked around the grounds, loads of vendors and live entertainment on the stage, what more could you ask for! Live entertainment for Thursday was the Georgia Clay Band playing hit after hit from many favorite southern rock bands. One guest personality that is a regular at this event is Jo Coddington and she is most definitely a people person that stops for autographs and photos almost all day long.
A great vendor at this show that really has an awesome display is Factory 5, showing some of their new vehicles plus quite a few of their customers’ vehicles. A new vendor at the 2016 event was Chevrolet Performance Parts with their show rig, display vehicles and awesome new motors on display. Thursday after hour’s activities included a flame-throwing contest at Hammerhead Fred’s that always draws a big crowd!
On Friday Aaron Bessant Park was jam packed with rods, customs, classics and more people than you would have thought possible. The main stage started rocking with ’50s and ’60s music with Bowzer’s Rock & Roll Party, which featured Bowzer & The Stingrays plus Rocky and the Rollers. The show continued with Little Peggy March who was followed by Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon, both chart-topping singers from the early ’60s. Friday was a blast from the past with these acts and so many vehicles in the park from the early rock-n-roll days.
Saturday the park was once again jammed to capacity with a lot of activities taking place. There was an auction by Bid One that featured cars, trucks, auto related memorabilia and a special auction of one of Boyd Coddington’s personal shirt presented by Jo Coddington. This was followed by the Georgia Clay Band on the main stage until after lunch when Bowzer’s Rock & Roll Party took the stage. The final act for the event was Peter Noone and Herman’s Hermits. The fun music was followed by the closing ceremony that covered everything from door prizes, awards and $10,000 in cash giveaways!
A big thanks to Flip Flop Promotions for putting on this great event and Panama City Beach, Florida for being such a great host city.
If you have not been to this event in the past, be sure to plan on being a part of it in November 8-11, 2017. If you don’t want to wait until November, Flip Flop Promotions and Panama City Beach have teamed up for an Emerald Coast Cruizin’ this March 8-11, 2017. That’s right! The only spring breakers the city wants this year are owners of customs, classics and hot rodders. The spring event will be rocking to Jimmy Buffet style tunes and some other great music from the ’70s & ’80s! For more information visit the Emerald Coast Cruizin’ Facebook page or www.emeraldcoastcruizin.com