Cold Weather Hits Bentleyville, Area Businesses Hard

Updated: 12/11/2013 10:14 PM
Created: 12/11/2013 9:42 PM
By: Maarja Anderson

Bentleyville was closed again Wednesday night due to the severe temperatures. This is the third time this season the "Tour of Lights" has closed because of the weather.

But along with Bentleyville, this weather is setting many businesses back.

From a three-day snowstorm to frigid temperatures, it's the kind of weather that keeps Northlanders inside and brings the traffic to area businesses to a near stop.

"I think we've really noticed, especially last week, many of them were hit by the heavy weather," said Kristi Stokes with the Greater Downtown Council.

That weather forced Bentleyville Director, Nathan Bentley, to turn off the lights three times this season.

"We don't want to encourage the public to come out and we don't want our volunteers and our staff to be out there," explained Bentley.

Bentley said in all the years they've had the "Tour of Lights" at Bayfront Festival Park, they've canceled a few times, but never three times this early in the season.

Taking a big hit are donations.

"It makes it very difficult to pay the bills that we've accumulated to put the event on," said Bentley.

Bentleyville is free, but they count on donations to keep the lights on. They also take toy and food donations for families in need. But this string of bad weather has kept the visitors and their gifts away.

"For the past couple years, we had beautiful weather...we had record attendance...but this is turning out to be quite the challenge," Bentley said.

Low attendance at Bentleyville means Canal Park businesses, like Old Chicago, aren't getting that extra traffic.

"The weather has presented a new challenge and with Bentleyville being closed, that limits some of the activity to come down to Canal Park," said manager Tony Salls.

But Christmas is still two weeks away, so Bentley has hopes the crowds will return.

"Maybe we will get 70 degree weather here and change the whole thing around!" he said.

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