Bentleyville hopes to ward off Grinches with donated surveillance cameras

A closed-circuit television system was being installed Thursday in order to monitor the grounds with the hopes of warding off more vandals.

The "#BENTLEYVILLE" letters outside the parking lot at Bayfront Festival Park in Duluth as seen Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021. Dan Williamson / File / Duluth News Tribune

Bentleyville received an early Christmas gift in the form of several video surveillance cameras from Downtown Computer, a computer seller and repair service in Duluth.

The free tour of lights has been the target of vandalism for years, sometimes causing the event facilitators to call on extra volunteers to help with security. Earlier this week, some of the windows were smashed in on site and they've seen plenty of other mischief already this season, Bentleyville founder Nathan Bentley said.

"We go out and fundraise and we're having to take people's money that we've fundraised to fix damage," Bentley said. "It's wrong all the way around."


  • Bentleyville vandalized again; now seeking volunteers for security "A few Grinches" vandalized a Bentleyville semitrailer, according to the event's Facebook page.
  • Bentleyville vandalized again, equipment stolen last day of 2018 season Bentleyville was vandalized yet again Thursday night. According to a post on the Bentleyville Facebook page, this time thieves sawed off a 2-inch diameter cable that was being used during takedown from five buildings and the major power supply of...
  • Vandals cause $2,500 in damage to Bentleyville Two masked vandals caused $2,500 in damage to Bentleyville early this week, the annual holiday light display located in Bayfront Festival Park said in a news release Thursday.Bentleyville said the gift shop in Santa's House and the food and toy d...

Now a closed-circuit television system will monitor every "nook and cranny" of the site. The system includes cameras and recorders that can be accessed remotely. While the vandalism and thefts created a financial hit, Bentley said the bigger issue is the interruption it puts in the production. If the wrong cable is stolen, that could mean the lights don't turn on for the evening.
The owner of Downtown Computer, Nicholas Mancini, said he'd been thinking for a couple years about donating the equipment and labor to install the system, which he estimated would have cost well over $10,000.


Bentleyville relies heavily on volunteers and donations in order to open its gates for free each holiday season. Mancini said the donation is about protecting the time volunteers give to the event.

"So they're not having to redo efforts or run the fire drill just to get the park running again, Mancini said.

Mancini and Bentley scoped out the grounds together ahead of beginning to install the system on Thursday. They were still discussing how they wanted the system to alert people to potential mischief.

"With the high tech system that Nick has put in here, it's gonna be a lifesaver to keep an eye on everything that humans right now are unable to do for us," Bentley said.

Bentleyville will open for the season with a bang Saturday, with Santa Claus skydiving into Bayfront Festival Park at 4:55 p.m.

PREVIOUSLY: Bentleyville, Christmas City of the North Parade return next week

Bentleyville is open from 5-9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and from 5-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

What To Read Next
Check here for local news, sports, lifestyle and more from over the weekend and beyond.
Thirteen mushers competed in the shorter Beargrease race Sunday.
Subzero temperatures meant frost formed quickly on fans watching at the starting line of the 39th annual John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon on Sunday morning.
One dog died and two cats were still missing Sunday morning.