Northland's Very Own: Nathan Bentley

By KBJR News 1

December 17, 2010 Updated Dec 17, 2010 at 9:13 AM CDT

(Duluth, MN) It's no secret that Nathan Bentley loves Christmas.

What started out as a friendly neighborhood competition for Nathan, ending up turning into a massive city-wide event.

"We were always trying to put up a few more lights than what the neighbor had. Either across the highway or next door and it just kind of escalated," says Nathan.

And it definitely escalated.

Nathan went from stringing a few lights on his home to renting boom lifts to put up decorations, all the while attracting bus loads of people to his property.

"Each year we would add a few more things like popcorn, coffee, cookies, fire pits, and then Santa was there each night. It just continued to grow very quickly in just four years," says Nathan.

After hosting Bentleyville at his home for numerous years, Nathan decided to take a year off.

That's when the city of Duluth threw its support behind the tour of lights and asked Nathan if he would set up Bentleyville at Bayfront Festival Park.

"I think it adds a lot to the community it gives people a place to go that doesn't cost money and allows them to bring families together that maybe wouldn't otherwise have anything to do," says Bentleyville volunteer Daryl Blazier.

Now in its second year at Bayfront, Bentleyville has drawn in hundreds of thousands of people and for many it's become a favorite holiday pastime.

One family we met at Bentleyville says that they have been going since their daughter was just one and they plan to keep going back because it has become a family tradition.

A tradition that Nathan hopes will keep going for many years to come.

"I love Christmas there is no doubt about that. I do," says Nathan.

Bentleyville will be open until Sunday, December 26th.

But there will be a special re-opening of the tour of lights on New Years Eve for a community party, which will include fireworks, ice skating, and games.