Today’s news:

Lighting up Richmond Hill

In the eyes of the Richmond Hill Block Association, the neighborhood’s best Christmas lights display can be seen at 112-13 86th Ave.

The association has been holding a contest for three years, with this year’s winner capturing $300.

“It’s a lovely way to beautify the community and bring the neighborhood together,” said Paul Bankert, the Richmond Hill Block Association vice president.

Wilson Vargas of Dynamic Properties Realty paid for the prizes out of his own pocket. He said since he started doling out the money there have been more Christmas displays in the neighborhood.

“I’ve noticed more houses have been lit up. A lot, a lot of houses,” he said during last Thursday’s awards presentation at the Richmond Hill Block Association’s headquarters at 110-08 Jamaica Ave. “What the Richmond Hill Block Association is doing, it’s working out.”

“For any business to be giving money in this economy is tremendous,” Bankert said of Vargas. “It’s a testament to Wilson’s dedication to the neighborhood. He walks the walk and talks the talk.”

Ferial Rameshwar, who lives in the winning house, said she was shocked her home came out on top. Ten houses competed in the contest.

“It was a wonderful surprise,” she said, noting the display has been put up for the last eight years since she has been living at the house. “When we decorated the house, we didn’t do it to win a contest — we did it because we enjoy doing it.”

Rameshwar said she would use the money to help buy Christmas gifts and donate the rest to her church, Holy Child Jesus, in Richmond Hill.

Her husband, Parmanand Rameshwar, said it took the better part of a day to put up the display, which contains roughly 3,000 lights.

“I assembled everything,” he said. “It took like 10 hours. It’s a lot of lights.”

“Every year it gets easier because we know where everything goes,” he said.

Like his wife, Parmanand Rameshwar said he did not put up the display to earn any accolades.

“We just do it every year for the kids and the neighborhood,” he said. “It’s something for them to look forward to. I just love doing it.”

But he said the award validated the work he put into the display.

“It was like a compliment to win. We never thought we would win,” he said. “I was telling the kids at least I got an award for my hard work.”

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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