Bentleyville Crews Hunker Down for Windy Winter Storm

Volunteers were out as early as 3 p.m. battening down the Bentleyville hatches, securing signage and some lights with cement blocks so they don't blow away.

DULUTH, Minn.- While forecasters kept their eyes to the sky Wednesday, crews at Bentleyville were hard at work on the ground, preparing the tour of lights in Bayfront Park for its second major storm of the 2021 season, closing for the precipitation and 50 mph wind gusts that are all but expected off Lake Superior.

Volunteers were out as early as 3 p.m. battening down the Bentleyville hatches, securing signage and some lights with cement blocks so they don’t blow away.

One longtime redcoat volunteer of 10 years said many light displays are left plugged in.

But he has repaired 3 plywood signs already this season on the lower grounds due to the wind.

“It’s mostly the signs,” said Kevin Kiesow. “Maybe the fire pits will blow away but other than that, that’s about it. Garbage cans will be tipped over with the wind.”

“We just hope for the best we’ll come in early tomorrow and turn the lights on make sure everything works,” he said, “and then turn them back off before we open.”

Bentleyville is no stranger to rough storms each season.

The most recent was the Northland’s first winter storm two weeks ago when a brand new $10,000 house display where people could take pictures was lost.

“Two weeks ago when the storm came through heavy winds down there I think it was a Sunday night took out that house and it was not salvageable,” Founder Nathan Bentley said.

“Sometimes we go two to three years of a great streak of never being closed and other years we’ll be closed on and off throughout the season,” he said. “But it’s always due to the, due to weather and being safe with our guests and our volunteers and our staff and everyone that’s down there.”

More volunteers came for their scheduled shifts at four. But rather than prepare for crowds to come they took down more lights, posters, and more then went home to ride out the storm.

If it all fairs the storm well, Bentleyville is set to re-open Thursday evening at five.

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