On Saturday, October 13, 2018, volunteers from Iron Workers Local 512 participated in setting up the iron frame for the 128-foot tall Bentleyville Christmas tree in Duluth’s Bayfront Festival Park. Since 2010, volunteers from Local 512 have erected and taken down the massive Christmas tree – the dazzling centerpiece of the Bentleyville “Tour of Lights” holiday event.
The Christmas tree is not only assembled by volunteers from Local 512 – a process that involves moving three separate forty-foot long sections a quarter of a mile to Bayfront Park – it was also fabricated by volunteers from Local 512. In August of 2010, Nathan Bentley, Founder and Executive Director of Bentleyville, asked members of Local 512 if they could help in crafting an iron-framed Christmas tree for Bentleyville. “We were initially told that the tree would be only 12 feet high,” said Brian Nelson, Apprentice Coordinator for Iron Workers #512 JAC. Soon thereafter, however, Local 512 learned that the tree would actually be ten times taller and would need to be completed by mid-October in order to be installed on time. Despite this tall order, Apprentices, Journeymen, and Retirees all came together to work on the fabrication of the tree. By mid-October of 2010 the large iron structure was completed, installed, and ready to awe visitors.
Since 2010, over 100 members of Local 512 have volunteered in helping to set up and take down the temporary Christmas tree. “Every year, as early as June or July, we get a lot of members asking about the tree and wanting to be a part of the team that sets it up and takes it down,” said Nelson. The spirit of volunteerism, generosity, and community engagement at Local 512, however, extends all year-round beyond just the holiday season. “We have built bike racks for the city of Superior; canoe and kayak racks for Duluth and Superior – we’re always doing as much volunteer work as we can,” said Nelson. With the installation of this year’s Bentleyville Christmas tree already complete, members of Local 512 have shown yet again their commitment to community service.
This year’s 15th Annual Bentleyville “Tour of Lights” event runs from November 17th until December 26th at Duluth’s Bayfront Festival Park. For event information, including hours of operation and parking, visit www.bentleyvilleusa.org.