Dyker Heights gears up for annual holiday light show despite pandemic

A past “Dyker Lights” display near 12th Avenue and 86th Street.
File photo

The annual Dyker Lights display will continue spreading holiday cheer this December, although the beloved spectacle will most likely take a more subdued form because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to one local leader. 

Dyker Lights will be on in some form, we’re just not exactly sure how,” said Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann, who noted that some locals are opting out of the tradition this year. “We’re hearing that some residents are scaling back in their decorations and others aren’t.”

Despite the alleged slowdown, several houses between 83rd and 86th streets and 11th and 13th avenues were already aglow before Thanksgiving as crews worked tirelessly to hang up decorations at houses across the neighborhood.

One worker with DiMeglio Decorators — one of two decorating companies many locals hire to build their displays — said that business is booming this year, despite the pandemic.

“It’s busy,” said the employee, who was installing a display outside a home on 12th Avenue and 84th Street with three other workers on Nov. 24, and who didn’t give his name. “I got three or four houses today.”

DiMeglio’s competitor, B&R Christmas Decorators, also said they’ve had a particularly hectic season. 

It’s almost busier this year. We are completely booked out for our calendar,” said Kristen, an employee at the company who did not give her last name. “Even with COVID and everything, it’s been good.”

One particularly popular display on 84th Street, which is said to have started the Dyker Lights tradition in 1986, is already set for the holiday season. The decorations, which resident Lucy Spata has displayed since she moved to the neighborhood, feature her army of large toy soldiers and two-story-tall nutcrackers, snowmen, and reindeer. 

Other homes in the area have large nativity scenes in their front lawns, archways cloaked with wreaths, and statues of reindeer pulling sleighs, among other decorations.

Some Dyker Heights residents decked the halls ahead of Thanksgiving.Photo by Rose Adams

One homeowner, whose 84th Street house was decked out in wreaths, red and white ornaments, and wire statues, said that he scaled back his decorations this year because of the virus. 

“I didn’t put out all my stuff this year,” said Bobby Kull, adding that he won’t display his eight-foot-tall Santa Claus, a sleigh, and other large statues. “I really don’t want people all over my property with everything that’s going on.” 

Kull said that spectators often climb on the statues or walk up the stairs of his house to get a good picture. This year, he plans to put tape across the front of his house to prevent onlookers from getting too close. 

“During Halloween, everyone taped off their entryways, so I’m going to do the same,” he said. 

Bus tours still plan to bring visitors to view Dyker Lights in December, but many have reduced their buses’ capacity, required that customers wear face masks, and instituted other safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Beckmann said that the buses won’t be allowed to traverse the main corridor, and that sanitation officials will place garbage cans on each corner to prevent trash build-up, as they have in previous years.

She added that local agencies are most worried about traffic, since many visitors will most likely opt to travel to the area by car, but said that the local precinct will coordinate traffic enforcement with other agencies. 

“It’s a really big unknown, but all the agencies [involved] are ready to be helpful in case we need additional resources in terms of traffic control,” Beckmann said.