It's still free right? I think the fact that it's free, allowing all Duluthians to go and enjoy it makes it worthwhile.
In Fort Wayne, Indiana they had a public Christmas tree that was powered by a stationary bike. People could climb on and light it up.
I think about 100 stationary bikes scattered around the Bayfront would be awesome.
Wow. This one is going to be fun to watch.
Personally, I think Bentleyville is a place for Duluthians who can't afford to go to DisneyWorld.
Just kidding...sort of.
Max: Somebody's paying the bill.
Ironic1: I suggested something similar to the Fort Wayne thing to UMD's energy sustainability program. Engineering students could hook up bikes in the fitness center to the power grid. Nothing ever came of it I don't think.
Yes, Max, admission to Bentleyville is still free. Donations are accepted.
Side topic: "Is Berv a scrooge?"
But seriously, unless someone has a mathematical equation (yes, that's a challenge!) for this, we are clearly about to have an uninformed knee-jerk forum here. Which I suppose is normal.
Personally, I think the resulting goodwill of the event makes the energy expenditure worthwhile. Throwing some folks on stationary bikes (perhaps dressed as elves) to power some things would only improve Bentleyville, but certainly that would have a front-end cost to it.
I've never been there. But I'm sure there are plenty of other things that waste as much energy year-round. There are days I drive down Fourth Street and see all the street lights on. There are plenty of people who leave their print porch lights on 24 hours a day. There's a stupid searchlight on McDonald's.
I don't think a fun family holiday event is a waste considering the amount of people it draws.
A single stationary bike only produces 50 watts of power. Last year Bentlyville was reported to use 250,000 watts. It would take 5,000 bikes to power it.
Homegrown is a huge waste of energy too. Think of all the power those guitar amps, stage lights and beer coolers all over town draw.
And for what? Some people having a "good time?"
Put a stop to it.
Yes it costs money for the electricity, but I think many of the local leaders will tell you that Bentleyville brings thousands of people to downtown who otherwise would not have been downtown at that time of the year. Those people then spend money at gas stations, restaurants and other stores and contribute to the tax base. In the end, the additional money to the tax rolls might or even exceed (not an overreaching possibility) the cost to power all the lights.
I'm sure it uses (er, wastes?) less energy than the mall.
I actually tried to not let my kids find out about Bentleyville - it just sounded like another way to make Christmas big and crazy and obnoxious, and I hoped they would be satisfied with walking around and checking out our neighbors' lights with a cup of cocoa or cider. My older son heard about it at preschool, though, so I agreed to take him, and he hasn't stopped talking about it for the past 10 months. He's so excited to bring his little brother this year.
I did see on the website that the gigantic tree is using LED lights.
And then I found out that we are, in a way, just checking out a neighbor's light display:
Christmas is a waste of energy.
I think Bentlyville is cute, but I just remember last year that they were practically begging for volunteers to help them setup. So this year they decide to go even bigger?
"Christmas is a waste of energy."
Agreed. Where is the focus on alternative holidays? Every year me and my Wookie friends celebrate Light Day with absolutely no tax-payer support.
@Danny -- "Life Day"
Also my Festivus pole requires exactly zero lights.
How dare I screw up "Life Day" with "Light Day"? I'm an idiot.
Actually Nate, I'm probably going to miss the celebration this year. Y'all are going to have to find some other house-husband to make your holiday cookies this year.
Dang, and it's already a week from tomorrow.
It's always a delicate balance. I understand and actively sympathize a bit with the "it's a waste of electricity" argument, just as I do with "4th of July fireworks are a waste of money" argument.
Fundamentally Bentleyville is consuming a resource that is powered by coal, which causes pollution and is a finite resource, and eventually driving up the price of electricity for everyone.
However, it does bring a lot of people downtown, not just Duluthians either, it is a big boost for many small businesses. Add to that it brings a lot of joy to literally thousands, if not tens of thousands of people, for many kids it is even a bit (grrr) "magical."
Myself, I don't care. I, personally love more intimate, non-stressful celebrations. I think they are more meaningful and honest. Yet, I can't outright condemn Bentleyville as it serves multiple purposes for many people, and so I kind of lump it in with the tourist issue. A hassle, but better than having a smelting plant next door.
On a somewhat related note, I was just driving down Superior Street near the M&H store, when a Minnesota Power truck crossed the double-yellow line and came right at me. I stopped and it stopped, and it put on its hazard lights. Just as I was thinking, "What the hell?" a semi truck rounded the corner carrying the huge Christmas tree for the corner of Superior & Lake.
So that was kind of cool.
I like Bentleyville, it just makes a dark and cold time of the year a little easier to endure. They could have more bonfires at Bentleyville, though, and fewer electric lights.
I think that it's worth the expense (city dollars = our tax dollars) to offer a family friendly way to celebrate the season.
Instead of the highly impractical suggestion of hooking up an armada of bicycles to the lights (do you really want to sit there in the freezing cold in choppers trying to ride a stationary bike willingly?) why don't we encourage more practical solutions... Purchase alternative energy from the power company and/or have a solar energy company donate solar panels and converters to help power the Christmas lights, and shorten the length of time Bentleyville is up and running. It's a safe and family friendly event, it gives local groups an opportunity to volunteer their time, and it's good PR for the City of Duluth.
@ Brian-Don't forget the cost of all those expensive guitars that use rare woods. Or sweat shop labor in the case of import Asian gear.
Maybe they can just have Bentlyville open during the day...then the electricity costs will be lower because the lights won't need to be on.
@Gary: that's soshulism!
The good far outweighs the seemingly so called "energy waste!" Let the lights of Bentleyville glow and let all who see and enjoy come away from this display feeling happy and joyous.
Energy waste - bull!
Duluthians and those from surrounding communities need happiness in their lives.
Everything is a waste of energy. As a human on this planet we waste everything. With the good comes the bad. Bentleyville is fantastic, the tourism it brings is one thing. To really understand how great this place is all you need to do is see the smiles on a small childrens' faces ... and remember that's who it's really for.
5,000 stationary bikes? 50 times as awesome as my idea!
Why bikes? Why not a big Conan-style Wheel of Pain?
The Amsoil sign ... now there is a waste of energy.
It is a use of energy, probably a net waste.
@Danny - "Wookiee"
All I have to add to this is they really need to change the name. "Bentleyville" does not sound like the holiday, family, fun, free, Duluth, happy-happy joy-joy, keywords, etc. event they want it to be. It's not in Bentley's yard (or so I assume it once was).
Good luck coming up with something that doesn't infringe on someone else's copyright, but as my husband said, it sounds like a 1930s hobo camp.
I think Bentleyville is fantastic. I agree that a lot of people miss the point if not for their kids. Despite attending Bayfront events by different names all year long, my kids always refer to the park as Bentleyville, even in July. They go nuts over it for many good reasons.
The main reason I'm a big fan is it's completely accessible for EVERYONE at no charge (and in a couple of the colder months, bonus). Duluth can't have too many events that accommodate entire families while taking money out of the equation for those who would otherwise be unable to attend, especially during the most wonderful time of the year!
And it's almost entirely funded by a single, local business owner who goes the extra mile on everything from cookies, cocoa, popcorn, smores, hats and any other ideas you may have for him. Our community (and country) can't have too many people like that who employ their business success to create things for the benefit of others.
@Danny & @NateL
Also, wookiee is spelled with two 'E's but now we're just splitting hairs. Get it? splitting hairs? Wookiees are hairy?
But seriously, what doesn't waste money these days?
I am a waste of energy. Just try and shut me down.
I think Bentleyville is important symbolism. Christmas is one of the most important holidays of the year, a religious event celebrating Christianity and the birth of Jesus Christ. The lights do a great job of invoking childhood memories for the old, providing a connection to home for those that are away, and creating new memories for the young. The lights are a reminder to everyone who visits that the light of God shines on all. I hope you all remember that when you drive by or visit.
I thought MP&L was footing the bill for electricity so it isn't costing the citizens of Duluth anything.
I personally have family that come up from the Twin Cities suburbs and spend money at restaurants and hotels, and isn't that what Duluth is all about in Canal Park -- Tourism Money?
@JJ ... The Amsoil sign is no larger waste of money than every other large lit sign in Duluth. Probably more efficient in fact.
Come on people don't be scrooges, holiday lights are cool! More the merrier I say!
Homegrown is a waste of energy, but in a more "the devil will find work for idle hands" kind of way.
"The lights are a reminder to everyone who visits that the light of God shines on all. I hope you all remember that when you drive by or visit."
Fine, now I have to throw up devil horns when I drive by out of spite. Spite spite spite.
Also, I think all Christmas lights are a colossal waste of energy, and if I were queen they'd be illegal. Aren't you glad I'm not queen?
Jim, I love Christmas, but I keep God and Jesus out of it -- out of respect for my Jewish husband and Wiccan daughter. Otherwise... nice post.
Trollin' for Christ.
I'm sorry to hear that Claire. I'll make sure to say an extra prayer for you and your daughter. And for Barrett and H1N1, if I could I'd tie a big red ribbon around that pile over at Midwest Energy and put a tag on it with your names. Shame, shame, shame...
Maybe we can get Jesus to power Bentleyville. That f#kin guy can do ANYTHING.
er.. yeah... late December has very little to do with Christianity, other than being a convenient time of year to co-opt from earlier groups that already celebrated it, and transplant the birth-date of the Christian prophet. I mean even the most serious Christian scholars acknowledge this, many of them point to September as the likely time of year for Christ's birth.
There is actually some interesting reading surrounding just why early Christians appropriated that time of year, including using already existing Roman festivals as a cover for the Christian's celebration.
But, whatever, the middle/end of December marks the darkest time of the year, and it's a good time to celebrate the human values of family and friends and looking forward to the new year.
Who ever is actually paying for the energy gets to decide if it is a waste or not. I would not agree with anyone who comes to my place and tells me I'm wasting energy doing something I want to do on my own dime ... so
@jim if the taxpayers are paying for this display does that fit into your government ideals of less spending and smaller government?
If a private person, or business is paying, or it is paid for by donations then who cares?
The whole city paying for a religious holiday celebration seems to go against traditional American norms.
It's not a waste, it bring people in from out of town. I have family that live up there and we use Bentleyville as an event for all the family across Wisconsin to get together and enjoy something nice.
There are ways to power the lights that would be more efficient than bikes, you live next to Superior which is very windy. If they put up a temporary (mini) windmill they would be able to cut the cost in half.
There are a lot of people I know where I live that take the time to drive to see the lights. Not very many towns do something for the people for free. With out of towners, it brings money into Duluth's economy.
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