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For two decades, Veterans hospital simply lights up the holiday nights • Brooklyn Paper

For two decades, Veterans hospital simply lights up the holiday nights

These six strings of lights have become some of the most well known holiday decorations in Brooklyn.
The Brooklyn Paper / Joe Jordan

These Christmas decorations may not rival other fanciful displays throughout the neighborhood (see page 1), but that’s just how the VA hospital wants it.

The Veterans Administration Medical Center — on Poly Place in Dyker Heights — has been hanging this triangular stream of red Christmas lights for, well, almost as long as anyone can remember!

“They’ve been putting them up at least for 22 years,” said Ray Aalbue, a spokesman for the hospital. “The display has become a tradition for the electrical shop, which puts them up.”

And indeed it has become a tradition for residents in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, and Bath Beach, who eagerly await the lighting of the hospital each year.

“My kids always look for them at Christmas time,” said June Deteskey, a secretary at Fontbonne Hall Academy, who remembers the lights from her own childhood in Dyker Heights.

The display consists of six simple strands of red lights — each holding 110 large light bulbs, topped off with a star comprising 35 white lights. It takes two days to set up the display of 15-watt incandescent lights, and the entire display is rewired every three years to make sure it’s safe.

The VA takes its cue from the tree at Rockefeller Center.

“We light up the same day as their tree, and we take it down when their tree comes down,” said Aalube.

The lights, which can be seen on the north side of the VA building, are lit from dusk to dawn every day.

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