LOCAL NEWS

School bus driver spreads holiday cheer to children with festive costumes

Dec 23, 2022, 4:02 PM | Updated: Dec 27, 2022, 5:22 pm
Scott Russell...
Scott Russell

ALPINE, Utah — Around this time of year, holiday cheer can be found even in the most mundane places: one man is bringing the Christmas spirit to kids on his school bus.

Scott Russell is a bus driver for the Alpine School District. He’s been driving buses for 15 years and wearing fun costumes for 13 years.

“I love the arts. I love plays, I love characterization so I thought it was fun to dress up,” Russell said. “I started dressing up to make the ride to and from school more enjoyable and just more fun for the kids.”

Scott Russell dressed as a pilgrim. (Russell Family)

Russell’s costumes have included a leprechaun for St. Patrick’s Day, Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter, Brigham Young, Genie from Aladdin, a pilgrim, and Santa Claus.

This last week Russell dressed up as Santa Claus one day and a train conductor of the “Polar Express” another day, turning his school bus into the Christmas train and giving out tickets and hot chocolate.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by KSL 5 TV (@kslnews)

“This man is incredible. He doesn’t just do the Polar Express for the kids. He also dresses up as Santa and gets out full-size candy bars that are wrapped. He also dresses up on St. Patrick’s Day and Easter, and always has fun treats for the kids,” Jerie Murie Olsen said. “My kids have rode his bus before and absolutely love him.”

“My route includes elementary, jr. high, and high school students and the high school students enjoyed it just as much as the young kids!” Scott Russell said.

Russell began driving buses just a few years out of high school, at the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Then he worked in photography for a while, but ultimately came back to bus driving in 2006. He said he always liked it.

“I enjoy what I’m doing and a lot of people can’t say that. They go to work because they have to. I go to work because I have to but also because I enjoy it,” Scott Russell said. “I think I’m making a difference and the things that I do – I have an impact on them.”

Scott Russell dressed as the genie from Aladdin. (Russell Family)

“My dad has always been a huge fan of Halloween and costumes, and when he started driving school busses he really wanted to make it fun for the kids. Some of the kids seemed to just really need a small gesture of kindness in their lives and it made going to work more fun for my dad so it was a win win,” Russell’s daughter, Mariah Russell said. “It started with playing kid friendly pop songs in the bus, and he noticed what a big difference that made in the attitudes on the bus, and it kind of evolved over time into decorating for each holiday or event that was going on.”

The next costume on the agenda for Russell is a Utah figure: Utah’s first governor, Brigham Young.

Scott Russell dressed as Brigham Young. (Russell Family)

“Next month I’m going to be dressed up as Brigham Young (even though he had already died at that time,) because the 4th of January is when Utah became a state after 40 years,” Scott Russell said. “I’m going to give them a Utah truffle. You can’t dress up and not involve a treat of some kind!”

“One year he dressed up as Dumbledore from Harry Potter and he and my mom really made him look just like him, and transformed the bus to match the theme! It was so neat, and it’s awesome to see them have this hobby together that they both really enjoy,” Mariah Russell said.

Scott Russell dressed as Albus Dumbledore. (Russell Family)

During the pandemic, Scott Russell’s wife, Barbara, got fabric with school buses on it and made masks for Scott and 20 other bus drivers.

Scott Russell’s wife, Barbara, made masks for Scott and other bus drivers during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Russell Family)

“I tried to make a situation not ideal, more enjoyable,” Scott Russell said.

Jerie Murie Olsen has been a school driver with Scott Russell for 12 years.

“I wish people understood what an incredible job this really is to work with these children. I cry every year not knowing if I will see some of these kids again. It’s a very rewarding job,” she said.

When asked why he decided to start dressing up, this was Scott Russell’s reply: “As a bus driver, the first thing they see in the morning is you and the last thing they see at night is you and you want to make sure it’s a positive experience.”

Not everyone gets a chance to know their impact in the community they live, but when KSL TV shared the photos of Scott Russell as a conductor of the “Polar Express”, comments came in praising his efforts to make traveling to school more convivial.

“He’s such a kind soul and I just love him and look up to him so much,” Mariah Russell said.

Scott Russell will continue creating magic for children.

“When people ask, ‘When will you retire?’ I say ‘Well, when I get tired of it, and I’m not tired of it yet!'”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Riders leaving the new shuttle. (KSL-TV)...
Shelby Lofton

Riders take advantage of new ski shuttle service for resorts in both Cottonwood Canyons

A new pilot shuttle program is offering skiers and snowboarders a new way to resorts in Big and Little Cottonwood.
18 hours ago
(File) Police Lights responding to a scene....
Michael Houck

Salt Lake man dead after accidental drowning in Millard County, police say

Authorities say a Salt Lake man has died after an accidental drowning incident late Saturday evening in Millard County.
18 hours ago
FILE...
Michael Houck

Utah juvenile services staff member arrested for sexually abusing housed juvenile

A man who worked in a Utah juvenile services facility was arrested for frequently sexually abusing one of the facility's juveniles.
18 hours ago
a motorhome is on its side in the middle of a wet freeway...
Brooke Williams

Motorhome rollover blocks SB I-15 in Farmington

A motorhome blocked the interstate when it rolled over on its side.
18 hours ago
The Wasatch County Sheriff's Office and Jail in Heber City is pictured on Friday, March 12, 2021. (...
Brooke Williams

Heber man surrendered with firearm after hours-long SWAT barricade

A man in Heber City was barricaded by SWAT and police officers after he made threats while intoxicated, intending bodily harm with a firearm.
18 hours ago
Students at Juan Diego Catholic School (KSL-TV)...
Michael Locklear

Private schools celebrate state funding, expect ‘significant uptick in enrollment’

Utah’s private schools are celebrating that they’ll receive state funding for the first time through a new school choice program.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t Let a Ransomware Attack Get You Down | Protect Your Workplace Today with Cyber Insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
School bus driver spreads holiday cheer to children with festive costumes