If Rockefeller Center is the dignified grand dame of Christmas in New York City, then Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, is the ostentatious Uncle Luigi who pinches all the girls’ cheeks and drinks too much mulled wine at Christmas dinner. That’s the way we roll in Brooklyn.
It started 25 years ago with this house. Lucy Spata and her family decorate every inch of their home with nutcrackers, toy soldiers and a Santa so big there is no way he is fitting down the chimney. There are about 30,000 lights keeping Santa aglow. Lucy’s mother was a “fanatic” about Christmas, and “so some of it is her stuff to keep her memory alive.” For the neighbors who think it’s too much? “Move,” says Lucy.
Most of the neighbors seem to have cultivated an attitude of ‘if you can’t beat `em, join `em.’ Florence Polizzotto’s display includes a motorized quartet of 10-foot tall dancers that pirouette to the music of the Nutcracker Suite.
In fact, some folks take the whole decorating business so seriously that they hire professionals to make sure they are keeping up with the Spatas.
Over the course of the season, an estimated 150,000 visitors file by the houses, all located within about 3 blocks. This neighborhood of Dyker Heights, originally settled by the Dutch, was developed in the late 1800s as Brooklyn’s first exclusive planned community. Walter Johnson, the developer, required that each plot of land be no smaller than 60 ft. by 100 ft. and each home had to cost a minimum of $4,000. (Today these homes are worth millions.) Dyker Heights had two things going for it: the area has panoramic sea views and it is close to lower Manhattan. The Wall Street Journal recommended it for “the busy man of Wall Street.”
Travel Channel host Samantha Brown takes a tour of Dyker Heights, Christmas 2009. (First two minutes of the clip.)
Do any houses do some over the top holiday decorations in your area?