Last Saturday, the Columbia Water Park was alive with various activities from the second Cruisin’ the Pearl. It was a day full of food, fun, entertainment, music and, of course, cars of all shapes, sizes and colors.
The event was a fundraiser to support the Wounded Warriors of Mississippi and the Marion County Fire Association. While organizers are still receiving donations, Lynnsey Clements said if they are not at their goal of $20,000, they are close to it.
The first Cruisin’ the Pearl was held in Monticello in 2019. It was put together through the Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center, St. Luke’s Foundation, which St. Luke’s Home Health is a part of and Lawrence County Hospital. Once the idea of Clements and Lane Thornhill took root, a committee was formed, and the car show came to be.
The first one supported the Lawrence County Fire Department, Wounded Warriors of Mississippi and the Blair Batson’s Children Hospital. Thornhill worked at the Lawrence County Hospital at the time, so it was decided to hold it in Monticello. With the coronavirus pandemic, the event was postponed last year.
However, Thornhill since joined Clements at St. Luke’s Home Health, and the decision was made to move it to Columbia, where both organizers are from.
“We are both from Columbia originally. We went to school here and were raised here. It was nice to give back to our own community,” Clements said.
Clements said people began arriving by 7 a.m., and it stayed packed all day long. It is estimated that 1,000 to 3,000 people attended the function in the beautiful weather. Close to 100 vehicles registered for the event. However, as the day continued, more vehicles were coming and taking part in the car show.
Thornhill said the fundraiser was a huge success. It was a very good day between the sponsors, donations and the number of people who attended. He said he only heard of a few complaints, but overall, those he spoke with had positive things to say about the day.
“We had really good food and really good entertainment. It was definitely a community event. We would not have been able to get any of that if we not had good sponsorships from our local companies,” Clements said.
Clements said she believed the fundraiser was successful because there was something for everyone, not just cars. There was plenty for people to see and do at the water park, from a pancake breakfast to a chili cook-off and entertainment. She said it was a well-rounded event.
Soldiers from Camp Shelby brought some heavy equipment for people to see and climb inside. Clements said they received a lot of support from the National Guard. The military allowed for the equipment to be interactive with the visitors.
The timing of it being the 20th anniversary of 9/11 also played a role in the event’s success, Thornhill and Clements believed. There was a patriot car there, and there was also a special ceremony in memory of the 13 soldiers recently killed in Afghanistan.
Tim Davis sang the National Anthem during the opening ceremony, and there was a moment of silence in memory of the 9/11 terrorist attack. Brian Stewart from The Church on Main provided the prayer for the program.
Some of the sponsors of the event include Bug Me Pest Control, Enterprise Fleet Management, Jowin Express, Looks Great Services, Magnolia Inn & Suites, Marion County elected officials, Mike Goldman Customs Inc., Moak’s Heating & Cooling, Roadside Assist 24/7, U-Save Car & Truck Rental, Victor’s Tint & Graphics and Walmart.
Bobby Rayborn won the Best in Show Car and Henry Graves won the Best in Show Truck. Other winners for cars include Wesley Keyes, first place; Eric Hutto, second place and Rusty Wells, third place. In the truck category, first place went to Glenn Bass; second place, Giovanni Chifici; and third place, Steve Bennett. First place in the motorcycle category belonged to Kenny and Lea Barkley, and second place went to Mike and B.J. Childress. Ciji Stringer won first place in the jeep category, and Allan Thompson won second. In the 2k class, Justin Loftin received first place, and Shaun Duncan had second. For the Rod Rod division, Keith Ginn placed first, and Joseph Dailey was second. The last division, Pre ’51, William Bolton was awarded both first and second place.
Plans are already in the works for next year’s event, which is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 10 at the Columbia Water Park. It is the goal to make the day even bigger and better. Thornhill said they might even try to have fireworks that night.