Bentleyville To Stay in Duluth
Posted at: 12/19/2012 12:52 PM
| Updated at: 12/19/2012 10:59 PM
By: Travis Dill
Nathan Bentley has been quiet about the future of his Tour of Lights in recent weeks, but on Wednesday he said community support is what pushed him to keep the lights on in Duluth.
“We just wanted to make that announcement as a Christmas gift to everybody that loves Bentleyville,” Bentley said.
Cheers and applause followed the announcement, from Mayor Don Ness and Nathan Bentley, that ended uncertainty about the future of Bentleyville. Just two weeks ago a federal judge ruled that two lay preachers cannot be excluded from the event.
“There's going to be people that are going to try to make a political issue out of something, but that's so unimportant and insignificant compared to the experience that these kids and these families have,” Ness said.
Bentley said the preachers are a distraction, but an outpouring of community support made staying in Duluth an easy decision.
“The amount of people that emailed me that I don't even know, the number of people that listed stuff on facebook, the number of people that said, 'We just want Bentleyville here; don't get tied up over these handful of people that might be ruining it for everybody else,' and that's what probably pushed me over the edge,” Bentley said.
Other cities have been looking to steal the show. Last week the Carlton County Board approved a committee to bring the event back to where it started.
But Bentleyville will stay in Duluth for at least three more years. This season will conclude on Dec. 26 with a fireworks display even larger than last year.
“I think it's exceeded the expectations of many in our community and has become a real success story we can all be proud of,” Ness said.
Bentley said there were no major changes to the contract's framework, but attorney's for the city and the event will work on the details for a few weeks. He stressed that the event will continue to be free of charge to the public.