City unveils tourism bus

Published 12:08 pm Friday, July 17, 2015

UNVEILED: Visitors check out the Vicksburg Convention Center’s new motor coach Thursday morning outside the convention center.

UNVEILED: Visitors check out the Vicksburg Convention Center’s new motor coach Thursday morning outside the convention center.

The city of Vicksburg is going beyond expectations by presenting the cities own motor coach.

“As far as I know we are the only city that has their own motor coach bus directly for tourism as well as the senior center,” said Laura Beth with the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The brand new vehicle was unveiled Thursday outside the Vicksburg Convention Center.

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The 42-passenger bus has blue seats and a strong air conditioning system that kept the spectators cool as they explored the vehicle. It has flat screen televisions and an open storage system above the seats plus it is handicap accessible from the back.

Alderman Michael Mayfield, right, sits in the driver's seat of  the City of Vicksburg's new motor coach Thursday morning.

Alderman Michael Mayfield, right, sits in the driver’s seat of the City of Vicksburg’s new motor coach Thursday morning.

Above the windows and ‘Going Beyond Your Expectations’ is printed. The back on the bus has the city’s seal, logo and slogan, ‘The Key to the South,” with three smaller pictures.

The motor coach is predominantly white with pictures of the Vicksburg Riverfront Murals, inside the Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum, the train behind The Old Depot Museum and a tugboat on one side. On the other side are the Vicksburg Bridge, the Old Court House, the Vicksburg National Military Park and a steamboat cruise.

The Vicksburg Post’s Justin Sellers took many of the pictures used to adorn the motor coach. Sammy Ross of Signs First, part of Vicksburg Newsmedia LLC, created the design of pictures that fade into one another on the bus.

“It was a big experience for us because we’ve never done anything of that size before,” Ross said.

The design on the exterior of the motor coach, was created through a collaboration with the city of Vicksburg, the VCVB, the VCC, Signs First and The Vicksburg Post.

Signs First and The Post are both part of Vicksburg Newsmedia, LLC.

Ross said VCC executive director Annette Kirklin let his team wrap the motor coach inside the convention center because it needed to be done in a climate-controlled environment.

While the team worked to put the designs on the motor coach inside the convention center’s exhibition hall, workers with the VCC were at the same time setting up for the large Ritz on the River event, making for some tight working spaces at times.

“I’m very appreciative that Annette and the mayor gave us the opportunity to do something like that for them,” Ross said.

During Thursday’s unveiling, Kirklin thanked those involved in making the purchasing of the motor coach a reality.

“I am so grateful to the city of Vicksburg and the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau for providing this bus for us for meeting planners, for the senior center and for tourists in our city,” Kirklin said. “I can probably count on one hand how many cities have this opportunity and have this service for use in their city.”

Jennifer Harper, the director of the Vicksburg Senior Citizens Center, said the center has been asking for this service for more than a decade and was pleased the Board of Mayor and Alderman listened to their request and was able to deliver.

“It’s like the mayor said, ‘We are going places, we are moving up,’” Harper said.

Tim Reeves, the publisher of The Vicksburg Post and president of Vicksburg Newsmedia LLC, said the companies took a lot of pride in being part of a project that so well represented Vicksburg.

“Thank you so much for letting us be a part of the project,” Reeves said during the unveiling event. “The past couple of days have been pretty exciting to see this come together.”

Strickland said the reality of having the motor coach makes it a nice part of the VCVB’s “tourism portfolio.”

“All we can say is this has been a long time coming,” Strickland said. “We are so excited to take this to market, for Ashley Gatian, our sales manager, to come and tell all of our meeting planners that we now have a motor coach bus.”

Mayor George Flaggs, Jr. gave most of the credit for the motor coach to North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield.

“All I did was ask Michael Mayfield and we got it,” Flaggs said. “On a serious note, you need to thank Michael because when we started budgeting this was not on the list, and we were able to assemble a meeting together and Michael was the one that stood up and said ‘if you’re going to buy a bus, buy big.’”