It’s that time of year again, when thousands of holiday revelers descend upon the normally quiet enclave of Dyker Heights to gawk at houses dripping in over-the-top holiday decorations as part of the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights tradition.
“This is my first time in Brooklyn, in New York, and in America,” Victoria Bosold tells Brooklyn Magazine. “It’s amazing. It’s incredible. So many lights, so many presents. In Germany it’s nothing like this. We do maybe one window, not millions of lights!”
It’s a wild scene to be sure, already bustling with hordes of tourists, lots of little kids running around, ice cream trucks trucks selling snacks and hot cocoa, gawkers spilling off the sidewalks in front of homes — some modest in size, some enormous — that seem to be buried in an avalanche of festive lights and decor.
“This is my son Frank Magnano Jr.’s house we’re doing it this year in honor of my husband Frank Mangano Sr., who passed away in June,” says an emotional Pat Mangano. “He loved doing the lights. He did it for years, for the people, and the crowds that just don’t end. They keep coming from all over the world and it’s an honor to be a part of this. I know my husband is looking down on this. He told my son, ‘make sure you decorate,’ and I know he’s watching.”
The most extravagant displays are installed professionally and can cost tens of thousands of dollars. There are legions of snowpeople, nutcrackers, wooden soldiers, Santas, Grinches, reindeer, angels, a few crèches, various famous cartoon characters and Muppets donned in gay apparel, and even a repurposed 12-foot Home Depot Skelly the Skeleton or two looming spookily over the lawns. Some houses play Christmas music, others blast out fake snow.
“We try to come every year,” says Staten Island resident Gerianne Dalton. “We love how beautifully the houses are decorated. We love the Christmas season, and it’s a tradition to come and look at lights at Christmastime, and these are probably the best lights in the city.”
The core Dyker Heights Lights viewing area is between 82nd and 85th Streets, and 11th and 13th Avenues. It’s an easy 15-minute walk from the D train at 79th Street.