Silver lanes aglow: Dyker Heights Christmas Lights dazzle southern Brooklyn

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights
The spectacular Dyker Heights Christmas Lights show is back!
Photo by Paul Frangipane

‘Tis the season for holiday cheer, festive celebrations, and spectacular Christmas displays — and no display is more spectacular than the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights show, held from now until Christmas.

Every year in December, Dyker Heights residents deck out their homes with glamorous snowmen, decorative Santa Clauses and Nutcrackers, and millions of twinkling lights, and invite visitors down to ooh and ahh at the sight. 

dyker heights front yard
One Dyker Heights home went all out with snowmen, reindeers and Santa’s sleigh. Photo by Paul Frangipane.

Lucy Spata, credited as the pioneer of the age-old tradition, started to decorate her home in 1986 after her parents passed away as a way to honor her mother’s love for decorating. What started as a small sentiment quickly grew into a Brooklyn must-see. 

“I started a bit at a time, but of course they didn’t like it because people were starting to stop and they didn’t like what they thought it would be,” Spata said. “So the more that they complained, every year I added more and more.”

dyker heights christmas lights house
Dyker Heights residents deck their homes out in holiday lights and decorations each year. Photo by Paul Frangipane

Little by little, neighboring houses joined in on the fun, and now most of the houses along 11th to 13th avenues and from 83rd to 86th streets decorate their yards and homes. 

The tradition has garnered mixed attention over the years, with most eager to see the decorations. However some residents are frustrated with the added attention, trash and traffic the Christmas lights bring.

dyker lights
Many Dyker Heights locals get in on the decorating fun. Photo by Paul Frangipane
people at dyker heights christmas lights show
Thousands of people flock to see the lights each year. Photo by Paul Frangipane

According to Josephine Beckmann, district manager for Community Board 10, the board works with the Mayor’s Office to bring in additional resources to mitigate residents concerns including more trash bins and traffic control. 

“We do ask that everyone is mindful that it is a residential community,” Beckmann said. “We just want to make sure that everybody can see and enjoy.”

Another concern is the street vendors and increased sidewalk traffic — which some say poses a risk to safety. According to Beckmann, the area is a vendor-free zone, however the city will allow vendors who are veterans to legally set up shop. 

Spata said despite the negative reviews, she has no intention of ending the legacy. If anything, the show will only get bigger and bigger. 

A large Gingerbread man waves from the yard of a Dyker Heights home.
A large gingerbread man waves from the yard of a Dyker Heights yard complete with ornaments and candy canes. Photo by Paul Frangipane

“When you go pay my mortgage, then I’ll stop. If you don’t like it, from Dec. 1 to Jan. 2, go on vacation because it’s not stopping,” Spata told Brooklyn Paper. “My husband passed on and made me promise him that it will continue and vice versa. I told him if anything ever happens to me, I wanted it to continue. My children know too that when I’m not here anymore, make sure this house gets decorated.”

snowman at dyker heights christmas show
A giant snowman takes in the spectacle. Photo by Paul Frangipane

Whether visitors want to view the lights on their own or book a visit with a tour bus guide, decorators say the Dyker Lights will stand for years to come. 

“We have a beautiful block. The people are wonderful, we have no problem at all,” Spata said. “It’s only for 30 days maybe less so what’s the big deal? Everybody’s happy. This will never die.”