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Lights brighten a season of change

With daylight in short supply, a host of holiday lighting displays are brightening the nighttime hours in Carlton County. Whether glimpsed from a car window while crossing the St. Louis River or more deliberately, the displays offer a taste of Christmas-as-usual with pandemic distancing built in.

At Cloquet's Spafford Park hockey players, a snowmobile, and deer among pine trees mingle with the mythology of the modern Christmas in a drive-thru display.

A few blocks away, people walk through Veterans Park to admire more light sights, including a tableau of the flag raising at Iwo Jima and other, more holiday-oriented visions of penguins playing, a train, a horse-drawn carriage and an entire gingerbread village.

Want more?

South of Cloquet, Butkiewicz Christmas Lane will be open near Kettle River Dec. 12 through Jan. 6 at 6710 Butkiewicz Road. Enjoy the various lighting displays from the warmth of your vehicle and take in a video in drive-up movie style. Drive the loop around the house and grounds to see the Bale Man, the lighted John Deere B tractor, Santa in the 1945 Chevrolet panel body truck, the original Nativity scene purchased by Carol Butkiewicz from Montgomery Ward in 1971, and laser lights shining on the old remodeled farmhouse. Watch a video, “From Our Family to Yours,” on the screen set up by the house. Visitors may bring food items or make a cash donation to the food shelf if they wish.

It takes two weeks to set up the popular display and another week to take it down. “As long as people are enjoying it, we will keep doing it,” Rory Butkiewicz said. To get there from Kettle River, take County Road 12 west to County Road 134. Turn right on 134 and then left on Butkiewicz Road.

North of Cloquet is the granddaddy of all lighting displays, Duluth's Bentleyville Tour of Lights - which got its start in rural Cloquet. In response to the pandemic, Bentleyville is also a drive-thru experience. Vehicles must enter from Garfield Avenue onto West Railroad Street to the Bentleyville entrance. (From Cloquet, take Exit 255B off I-35, then take the Garfield Avenue exit toward Port Terminal, stay in the left lane and continue onto Garfield Avenue.) Open through Dec. 27, there is a $10 fee per car.

Let us know about your favorite displays by emailing [email protected] and we will let readers know. And check out christmaslightingchallenge.com for a map of displays featured in the Christmas Lighting Challenge.

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