Dyker Lights outshine Thanksgiving

Residents begin preparing the nationally renowned Dyker Heights holiday lights in November to avoid decorating in the December cold.
Photo by Elissa Esher

It’s Christmas time — in November! 

Dyker Heights residents like to ring in the holiday spirit earlier than the traditional post — Thanksgiving start date — with some homeowners decorating their houses as early as Nov. 1, according to one decorator. 

“[We] usually start at the beginning of November, right after Halloween,” said Nando DiMeglio who runs DiMeglio Decorations, a company that decorates Dyker Heights houses. “Usually, after people eat turkey, they want the Christmas lights to come on. So we have to get all the lights up for all our customers before that day.” 

More than twenty-five homes have already begun preparing for the renowned Dyker Heights holiday lights display, ushering in the neighborhood’s favorite season nearly two months early. According to residents, the early start date is a neighborhood tradition.

“We always start decorating at this time of year,” said Dyker Heights resident Lucille Carletta, “Everyone does it. I love Thanksgiving as much as anybody, but this time of year I keep all my Thanksgiving decorations inside and it’s all Christmas outside.”

Carletta said that she decorates in early November to beat December’s icy conditions. 

“It’s too cold to get out and decorate in December,” she said. “This way I can have fun with it and not be freezing.”

Residents may setup their light displays before Thanksgiving, but they wait until after Turkey Day to flip the switch.Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Other locals claim that they decorate early to impress their neighbors. According to local Moona Elfares, her family takes pride in being the first on their street to beautify their home, and the decorations have become a kind of competition among neighborhood children. 

“Ever since my husband put out our decorations last week, my kids have been bragging,” Elfares said. “In this area, it’s no big deal to decorate for Christmas so early. The only thing I’ve heard from neighbors is that they love it. They know how much our kids love it and they know it’s important for the bigger houses to get a head start.”

However, some Thanksgiving purists have their doubts about the premature Christmas celebration, arguing that residents should slow their roll.

“The decorations look nice, but it’s just too early,” said Jaime Rodriguez, a Dyker Heights resident. “People always forget about Thanksgiving here. They jump from Halloween right to Christmas. They should take one holiday at a time.”

Local decorators say they strike a compromise by not turning on their Christmas lights until Thanksgiving passes. And according to DiMegglio, the professional decorator, the early start is simply a matter of necessity.

“We have way too many clients here to start decorations any later than the day after Halloween,” DiMeglio said. “If you don’t like it, don’t look at it!”