by Heather Larson
More than 300 vintage bus aficionados and 100 motorcoaches are expected to roll into Blytheville, Arkansas, for the second Antique Bus Homecoming September 27-29. The first event of this kind took place in 2013 and was held in the same place, at the restored Greyhound Depot. The attendees enjoyed themselves so much, they asked to repeat the occasion.
Charged with organizing and promoting this event, Tom McNally, a coach collector in Illinois, promises attendees will see old friends and make new ones. They’ll also have opportunities to view coaches converted to RVs and get ideas on how to jazz up theirs. Best of all, they’ll be in the company of like-minded individuals for three days.
“Millions of people have ridden these coaches, so they have lots of history attached to them,” said McNally. “It’s important to share these vehicles with the general public, and once you’ve traveled in one, you’re hooked.”
Often these giants of the highway bring back childhood memories of vacations, school field trips or heading off to summer camp, wrote McNally in a 2013 article for the National Bus Trader.
“Military veterans speak of traveling on the coaches of yesteryear with a great sense of affection,” he penned. “This very real connection to our past is why upon occasion, vintage bus enthusiasts gather together to celebrate the preservation of antique coaches. We come together to experience a shared interest in a lost era in America.”
McNally wants to see as many pre-1980 models as possible at this Blytheville homecoming event. He already knows for sure that the owners of several 1947 models plan to attend. But all years, makes and models are welcome. Whoever comes the greatest distance will be recognized.
Why go to Blytheville?
“The success of our gathering in 2013 was due in part to the overwhelming hospitality the town showed us,” explains McNally. “Now Blytheville is passionate about us returning, and that’s what separates this one from many of the other rallies.”
Main Street Blytheville, the town’s tourism promotion arm, posts multiple welcome signs before the event and numerous townspeople line the streets for the parade of buses. They really get into it, recalls McNally.
One of the town’s claims to fame is the restored former Greyhound Lines Terminal at 109 N. 5th St., where the homecoming will take place. This depot is one of the few surviving terminals from Greyhound’s Art Moderne blue-tile era. Built in 1939 and now totally renovated, the depot currently houses the tourist information center, a small museum and the office for Main Street Blytheville. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the exterior retains its original appearance while the interior reflects the building’s earliest design and purpose.
Many coach owners come to see this iconic building, says McCall. Being photographed with your vehicle next to a restored depot is as good as it gets.
These Blytheville lodging facilities offer group rates for the Antique Bus Homecoming: Holiday Inn, Comfort Inn & Suites, Hampton Inn and Quality Inn. Be sure to ask for the lower rates when making reservations.
The weekend includes a pancake breakfast, live music, a flea market, a catered barbecue dinner, an optional group tour to Dyess Colony (Johnny Cash’s boyhood home/museum) and lots of camaraderie with fellow bus hobbyists.