City of Phoenix - Public Transit Department

Nutcracker Holiday Bus Brings Cheer to Phoenix Streets

Bringing together ballet and buses might seem like a far-fetched idea, but the combination proved successful for the Phoenix Public Transit Department.

The city department, which operates bus service in Phoenix city boundaries, was approached by Ballet Arizona with the idea for a collaborative holiday bus as a way to promote transit service and ridership and aid the local arts organization in promoting one of its signature events, a month-long run of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker in December.

Phoenix Public Transit staff had operated decorated holiday buses in previous years, but eventually had to discontinue the promotional events due to funding cuts during the recession. The partnership between the Ballet was able to pay for production costs and offer a ticket discount to select Nutcracker performances, while city staff were able to aid in coordinating a media event to kickoff the festivities.

Launched on Nov. 19, the festive vehicle was be decked out in ballet-inspired décor, including a 40-foot bus wrap of the valiant Nutcracker and delicate dancing snowflakes; dancers’ sparkling toe shoes, and hand-painted decorations created by youth performers in this year’s production. The return of the holiday bus has allowed Public Transit staff to promote the benefits of service in a fun way for passengers, noted Neal Young, Phoenix Public Transit Interim Director.

“The holiday bus was a popular tradition that delighted our passengers,” he added. “It’s great that this partnership with Ballet Arizona allows us to bring back the holiday cheer, and offer an artistic experience for our riders.”

Likewise, the Ballet has been able to capitalize on the unique publicity that the transit program offered to reach new and potentially untapped audiences.

“With the Nutcracker Holiday Bus the magic of ballet gets to the broader community in a wonderful and unexpected way,” said Ballet Arizona Executive Director Alison Johnston. “It lets us reach people who may never have seen professional dance before and invite them to experience this holiday tradition with us.”