Bay Shore residents driving down Main Street in December may have taken note of the towering toy soldiers that have stood in front of Drew Patrick Spa each holiday season.
But few know the Christmas history of these 12-foot-tall statues – nor know that they may have once sat outdoors, atop the Radio City Music Hall marquee in the late 1990s.
Store owner Drew Allt said he and his partner, Richard Byrnes.
, stumbled upon the statues at a large flea market in Brimfield, Mass., back in 2015.
The Radio City inventory tags attached to the statues led him and Byrnes to believe that the soldiers were originally from the venue. They purchased the soldiers in anticipation for the store’s 10-year anniversary, which would take place just two years later, in 2017.
“We put them up, really anticipating to have a big, blockbuster anniversary celebration,” Allt said.
If the statues are authentic, they would have been on display between 1997-2006. But a spokesperson with Radio City Music Hall said Friday that they could not confirm or deny that the statues were genuine.
Further, a theatre producer and longtime adjunct assistant professor with Columbia University School of the Arts was unable to confirm the legitimacy of the soldiers.
Regardless of the soldiers’ authenticity, Allt said, the statues are distinct – as is the entire property at 128 West Main Street.
“Over the years, we’ve had a lot of fun decorating the inside and outside of the building,” Allt said. “It’s such a unique structure itself, and these really lend themselves to the corner.”
The space, once a bank, now houses a 10,000-square-foot spa, wellness center, and gift store. During the holiday season, a large Christmas tree sits in the center of the lobby. The fourth toy soldier stands alone inside the shop.
Allt and Byrnes.
had planned to resell or donate the soldiers, but the community’s piqued interest motivated them to keep the statues. Even this year, Allt said, people have asked and commented about the statues.
“People were really excited about them,” he said. “It’s become a tradition – now we put them up every year.”
Donna Perricone, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Bay Shore, said the statues, unique to downtown Bay Shore, serve as “an irreplaceable piece of Christmas nostalgia.”
“I remember looking up at these 12-foot guards wondering if I had stared at them in my younger years when our family regularly attended the Christmas show at [that] legendary theatre in New York City,” Perricone said.
The “holiday greeters,” as she calls them, hold a deeper meaning amid this difficult and stressful year.
“This year more than ever, they continue to greet our shoppers on Main Street, offering remembrances of happier holidays from the past,” Perricone added. “We invite all of you to come downtown to stroll and shop in Bay Shore and take pictures of your children and families posing next to these tall, stately, magical soldiers.”