Vandals Cause Thousands Of Dollars In Damage To Bentleyville’s Iconic Christmas Tree
Seriously. This has to stop.
Over the last couple of years, Duluth's Bentleyville Tour of Lights has been the target of vandals and thieves on a number of occasions. Event organizers shared they discovered they once again fell victim during the offseason as they prepare for their 2023 tour of lights.
This year will mark the 20th anniversary for Bentleyville, which started as a display at Nathan Bentley's Esko home. After 5 years, Bentleyville moved to Bayfront Festival Park, growing and expanding to attract thousands of people to the waterfront during the holiday season over the 15 years it has been in Duluth.
Most of the event's history, it has just been a cheerful holiday place in the Northland that only made headlines about new displays and large crowds. Over the last couple of years, thieves and vandals have began targeting the free attraction. This has led to organizers adding extra security, cameras, and other measures while they operate at Bayfront.
As organizers begin the setup process for their 2023 season, they discovered that vandals had gotten over a large barbed wire fence on private property, where they cut and stole power and control cords that light and animate the 128-foot tree that stands at the center of the holiday attraction.
Organizers say the cost to replace everything damaged and stolen by the vandals will cost somewhere between $3,000 and $5,000 to replace. Nathan Bentley shared that the bigger concern yet is the amount of time it will take to replace and repair the tree.
With about a month and a half before the 2023 tour of lights opens, this is clearly an unanticipated extra thing they will need to worry about while conducting setup activities.
As setup continues, volunteers are still needed. You can join them for setup Wednesday evenings from 5 to 8 pm and Saturdays & Sundays from 8:30 am to 4 pm, with lunch provided on the weekends. If you'd like to volunteer, visit the volunteer page on the Bentleyville website.
The 2023 Bentleyville Tour of Lights will open on November 18, 2023, running through December 26, 2023. It will be open 5-9 pm Sundays through Thursdays and 5-10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.