The Cities Blog

The Twinkle Bus, Now in HD!

That harbinger of holiday hospitality, the Metro Transit Twinkle Bus, is poised to make its return to the Holidazzle parade tonight.

With an upgrade.

This year, instead of the old, State Fair-worn Gillig Phantom that used to join the evening parade down the Nicollet Mall, a new second-generation hybrid electric model will be sporting a hi-fi sound system and 23,000 twinkling LED lights strung on a custom aluminum frame around the 40-foot bus.

"They're synchronized via a computer program, to flash to the beat of three holiday songs," says Metro Transit spokesman John Siqveland. Call it Twinkle Bus 2.0.

He said Metro Transit retired the first Twinkle Bus after the 2010 parades because it was too hard to keep it running.

"Last year year we didn't have the Twinkle Bus in the parade, and we heard from folks throughout the region that really sort of missed it. This is a great way for us to get out in front of people in our core market in downtown Minneapolis and show we're part of the community, and it's a project of civic pride, really."

The project cost about $8,000 and comes out of Metro Transit's marketing budget. The frame is removable, so the bus will be returned to regular street service after the holidays are over.

The parade runs Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights through Dec. 23. Garrison Keillor is scheduled to be the grand marshal that night, by the way.

Luckily, you don't have to stand on the frigid sidewalk or hazard a $42 parking ticket in Minneapolis to enjoy the Twinkle Bus. We've got your parade preview right here. So sit back, relax, and sing along to the stylings of Ella Fitzgerald and Winter Wonderland with the Twinkle Bus!