Tequila Bus was worth a shot
By Glenn Swain
For years while on his way to work Rick Cibik passed by the yellow school bus parked in the yard of someone’s home on the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation northeast of Phoenix, AZ. As general manager of Fort McDowell Adventures, Cibik hit on an idea to put the old bus to use for the company that offers visitors the Wild West experience. Inspired by “The Mexican Bus” he had heard about in San Francisco, Cibik envisioned a moving party bus for corporate events and special occasions.
“My idea was to turn it into a Cheech and Chong-type of experience, and the tackier the better,” Cibik says. “I called it The Tequila Bus.”
In an ironic twist, he purchased the bus for $1,500 from a church on the Yavapai Nation.
Crews gutted the bus by taking out all but six seats, which they then anchored parallel to the windows to make for a wider aisle. Cibik specified gaudy purplish curtains hung as a chichi passage to the lounge area where couches with leopard-print pillows continue the inelegant motif. He installed a remarkable sound system to play tequila-inspired songs. He stocked the onboard bar with Mexican beer, tequilas and margarita mixes. A large Mexican flag hangs on the outside of the brightly painted bus with the skull of long horn bull affixed to the hood. Cibik says the refurbishing to bring the school bus up to party bus status cost $6,000.
The Tequila Bus takes riders far out into the Arizona desert to the site of a roaring campfire where all guests exit the bus to perform the official tequila salute.
“We toast the group and its leader,” Cibik adds. “If we have a corporation as a customer, we salute the president or general manager. If it’s a bachelor party, we toast the guy getting married.”
Even the Tequila Bus bartender gets in on the act. Dressed like a Mexican bandito bequeathed the name of Chewy Rodriguez, he acts out a skit where he and the passengers are on a search for Rosa, his philandering bride.
Currently, the Tequila Bus does not leave the Yavapai Nation property. The plan is to eventually have the specialty bus pickup and drop off passengers at the Nation’s nearby hotel and casino. When that happens Cibik says he will hire professional drivers with CDLs.
The Tequila Bus has been a huge hit for Cibik and Fort McDowell Adventures.
“I love to watch people’s faces when they board the bus,” he says. “They really don’t understand what it is until they get inside. I’ve seen the crabbiest of people get on the bus and suddenly their face lights up. The Tequila Bus makes people smile.”