Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - "It's really just hit and miss, whatever Mother Nature throws at us," laughed Mayor of Bentleyville Nathan Bentley Thursday.
Last year the Bentleyville Tour of Lights touted a clean record when it came to weather–related closures of the holiday lights display.
But less than two weeks after opening for this year's season, inches upon inches of snow and ice, whipped by 40 knot wind gusts off Lake Superior, shut the attraction down for two days in a row.
Come Thursday, that meant city and volunteer crews were hard at work digging out.
"...all of the buildings that need to be cleared up around there—the Santa lines, the Mrs. Clause line, all around the family center. The city will come in and help us do the parking lot, but all the grounds [are] our responsibility," said Bentley. "So, there's a lot of snow removal to be done."
Bentley says Northlanders can expect the snow cleared and fires to be roaring Thursday evening, but it doesn't make up for the two days the attraction missed collecting toys and canned goods for the less fortunate.
With 25,000 pounds of food and 1,400 new toys collected last year, Bentleyville is one of the largest donation sites for the region.
Bentley says now is the time to double up on donations.
"Bring two or three toys versus just one toy," urged Bentley.
The Minnesota Air Guard 148th Fighter Wing will also be creating another convenient location for Northlanders to donate toys to the Toyland Express this Saturday, at the Amsoil Arena during the UMD Bulldog game.
Colonel Penny Dieryck says it's a donation that goes to the heart of the Northland.
"The toys stay local. If you give to toys for tots—which is another great cause—all those toys go to the Twin Cities," said Col. Dieryck. "If people want to get toys from them, they have to drive to the Cities to pick up those toys."
All donations to the 148th Toy Drive will be delivered to the Salvation Army as early as Sunday morning.
Donation sites for the 148th Fighter Wing Toy Drive will be at Amsoil Arena entrances and exits, including the DECC Auditorium.
Red kettles will also be located on site for monetary donations.
And of course, if you can't get to the game, the Northland's News Center is a drop off site for the Toyland Express.