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Bus driver celebrates retirement with ice cream party for students

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School Bus 705 was riding along its usual route in Saco, Maine Wednesday, when it took a detour.

At its unusual stop, bus driver Bruce Audie stood by, as all 65 kids jumped off the bus.

Bruce has been driving the local school kids there for 5 and 1/2 years.

“I greet everyone of them every single day on and off the bus” Audie says.

Bruce, a retired 37-year veteran of the Biddeford Police Department, decided to retire this year. His second career is that of a bus driver.

He thought what better way to celebrate, then at Garside’s Ice Cream, a landmark Audie points out to his students almost every day on their drive.

“They have so much light in their lives already and I just want to add a little bit of light, that’s all.”

Audie would joke with the kids on the bus and say “hey let’s stop for ice cream”, but the seasonal ice cream shop was mostly closed during the school year.

But it’s open now.

“They chant, they let out ‘ice cream, ice cream’ and I couldn’t not do it.”

The kids ordered ice cream cones, any flavor, with sprinkles or without…all paid for by Bruce and his wife.

“I have the best families and kids,” Audie said tearing up.

Bruce means a lot to the kids.

“He’s the best bus driver in the world,” said seven-year-old Tessa Purvis.

Third grader Malia Collins says, “he’s really nice and fun.”

Keira Mcveigh tells News Center Maine, “I think he’s really nice, he actually let us have free ice cream. A lot of bus drivers wouldn’t do that.”

But Bruce isn’t like most bus drivers.

Tessa’s mom, Abby Purvis, said “one day they were ahead of schedule and instead of dropping them off early he kinda pulled over and talked to the them, he always wanted the kids to know he cared for them.”

Audie does care and it shows.

“They have so much light in their lives already and I just want to add a little bit of light, that’s all.”

The ice cream field trip was a sweet, generous gesture these kids, Bruce and the Saco community won’t soon forget.

Audie’s wife is retiring next year. He says the time is right. “We have plans that we’ve been looking forward to for years.”

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