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The Dark Side of Holiday Lights

December 12, 1999|JURA KONCIUS | WASHINGTON POST

Presciano says when lighting her own tree, she starts from the top and uses a layering technique. "I put one layer of small sparkling twinkle lights as a base coat; then I add purple and gold lights. It gives it texture and excitement."

Juba, on the other hand, starts at the bottom, uses the wrapping method and walks around the tree often to see how it looks from all sides. He puts 1,200 lights on his 7-foot tree and he says it takes about an hour and a half.

He admits that before environmental concerns kicked in, he would simply unplug his tree and dump it--lights and all--on the curb. These days, he uses a pair of scissors to cut off all the lights before putting out the tree for recycling. Each year, he starts with brand-new lights, but then, he is the president of the company.

Peter Trovato, an executive at Kurt S. Adler of New York City, a major importer of holiday lights, says he and his wife do not always agree on light placement for the tree in their home. They start early Sunday morning and it can take all day. Sometimes, he puts the lights on seven or eight different times to make his wife happy. "I've been in this business 26 years, and I've been married 22 years. It's the only time of the year we have an argument."

One year, Trovato sent his wife to her mother's house. "I said, 'Come back and the tree will be done.' I took all the lights off and flung them on the tree. When she came back, I told her, 'This is how they are doing it in New York.' "

This year, he's got a fresh plan.

"I may try the new netting lights. Call me next week, and I'll tell you if my wife throws me out of the house."

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