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VOL. 38 | NO. 36 | Friday, September 5, 2014

Big Love Bus a big hit with Titans, Vols fans

By Sam Stockard

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If you want the ride to a Titans or Tennessee Vols game to be as fun as the football game itself, the Big Love Bus could be your ticket – and a safe one at that.

Launched in May and July by Jessica Jackson and Renee Sprouse, the Big Love Bus incorporates psychedelic painting on the outside of three former school buses with renovated interiors designed to make a trip to any event an experience.

One bus runs in Nashville, another in Knoxville, and still another floats between the two cities.

“It’s definitely a happy, funky, hippie bus. You can’t look at it and not smile,” co-owner Jackson says.

Buses are peppered with positive images such as red, white and blue peace signs, a smiling Earth, a sleeping sun and clouds, wings and stars.

The wild and crazy exterior – hand-painted by 19-year-old Caden Montgomery – catches people’s eyes at traffic lights and stop signs, and a horn that makes about 25 animal sounds helps spread the message.

But the inside doesn’t look like a burned-out hippie bus. It’s a clean machine – done by Precision Rod & Customs in Sevierville – with hardwood floors, cabinets and counters, a big tub of ice to keep drinks cold and comfortable seating for 35 to 40 people so they can sit across from each other chat.

It also has a TV, rocking stereo system with outdoor speakers and a GoPro camera that can be used to shoot video and photos that can be emailed to riders.

“From start to finish, you’re having a great time,” Sprouse says.

The company provides water, ice and a Department of Transportation-approved, drug-tested driver. Riders have to bring their own food, snacks, beer and other beverages.

They might have been school buses in a previous life, but little evidence of that is left in the interiors.

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The Big Love Bus has RV parking passes for Titans and Tennessee Volunteers games. A Vols football trip also comes with two game tickets. The bus will pick up people at their homes and take them to the University of Tennessee campus, where they can tailgate before and after the game and be taken home safely.

But it isn’t just for football games. It can be rented for a night in Knoxville’s Old City or a night on Lower Broad in Nashville where people can enjoy the restaurants and night life.

“It’s a safe, sober ride for a nice, big group to go together,” Sprouse says.

And it caters to any age, carrying people as young as 5 months to their uppers 70s so far. Sprouse says she’s booked a number of children’s birthday parties, as well as 40th birthdays and older women’s bridge parties.

It can travel anywhere in Tennessee, and recently picked up riders in Murfreesboro, Shelbyville and Estill Springs for a dinner trip to Dave’s Modern Tavern in Monteagle.

“It’s a lot of fun, I tell you,” says Pam Beasley of Shelbyville, who organized the occasion for her husband, Rick, and 18 friends. “It’s a great visit and ride-along while you’re going somewhere.”

Beasley plotted the route, though the company will do that, and the bus stopped at people’s homes along the way. It’s a great way to go out and enjoy a drink on the town without having to worry about needing a designated driver, Beasley says.

The bus stopped at a convenience store for a restroom break, and while they were there, “people were cutting up with us and making pictures,” she says.

Back on the road, she says, “We rolled the windows down and waved at everybody, and that was just a lot of fun.”

These young ladies, including Jessica Jackson and Tanna Clark, are having Tutu much fun on the Big Love Bus.

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Not only does the bus focus on fun and safe transportation, it spreads the love, owners say, by traveling to charitable events. It has delivered to homeless children at Safe Haven through Murfreesboro-based Grace and Glory, set up at a 5K to benefit the Sexual Assault Center, and donated to the Mad Hatter, which benefits the Sexual Assault Center.

It’s also getting involved with the Fall Crash Party, a benefit for the Middle Tennessee Multiple Sclerosis Society.

All good things have a cost, of course. The Big Love Bus rents for $200 an hour, which translates into $25 per person for the 35 people who take a three-hour trip.

Riders are finding it worth the price, and most report they have as much fun riding to and from events as they do at the events, Jackson says.

“It just makes people smile,” she says. That’s why its slogan is “spreadin’ the love.”

To schedule a ride: nashville@biglovebus.com, 615 630-3534615 630-3534   or knoxville@biglovebus.com, or call 865 203-1355.

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