Some Minn. Schools Concerned About Prom-Bound Party Buses | News
It's prom season and that means corsages, tuxes, fancy dresses, slow dancing, romance and, well, PARTY BUSES! The growing trend for teens to ride in groups to the event aboard luxury limos is causing concern in some Minnesota school districts. The fear is that rather than preventing teen drinking -- these rides promote it.
Last weekend in Prior Lake, Junior Gabrielle Bjorge joined 15 friends in a party bus owned and operated by Ace Limo. First they stopped for dinner, then to the prom, and then they tooled around in the limo a while longer. It came complete with disco lights, a great sound system, video screens, and "safety" poles. Except for their driver, there were no adult chaperones. "You can just go on the bus and dance," said Gabrielle. In fact, she says the party bus has now become some kids' favorite part of prom.
Erin Bjorge arranged the ride for her daughter and her friends "so they wouldn't have to worry about the driving conditions, about parking, about getting lost."
But there are rules.
According to Pete Sample, an Ace Limo chauffeur, "There's no alcohol, or drinking by anyone, or the ride is over." Still, he admits, "We've had occasions where kids will sneak it on."
Look no further than You Tube for evidence. The video-sharing site offers up dozens of prom-bound "party bus" teens across the country drinking on buses--and bragging about drinking. In one, a teen yells, "We're about to get down right now, get drunk as hell!"
Another yells, "Everybody get drunk!"
As a result, administrators at schools like Minnetonka High have come out strongly against party buses.
To help bridge the difference in opinion, a Minnetonka community group called Tonka CARES is creating awareness about the legal risks and liability issues connected to the buses. According to coordinator Imogen Davis, "We want our kids to be safe. There are lots of companies that are not legitimate or safe. It's pretty easy to start a business like this. You just go buy a bus and put an ad on Craig's List."
The U.S. Department of Transportation regulates vehicles like party buses. Those thinking of renting one can check out a company's licensing and registration information, along with any reports of serious safety violations at www.fmcsa.dot.gov.
Mark Saxenmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org