Dyker Heights’ famous Christmas lights went dark last week, but it wasn’t the neighborhood’s colorful, blinking incandescence that caused a series of blackouts on Dec. 12, it was Mother Nature.
The neighborhood’s dramatic holiday displays all went black at 8:30 pm on Dec. 12, the third time that day area residents were left in the dark thanks to the windstorm that the electric company said wreaked havoc on the local grid.
But residents, fed up with what they say is a history of repeated brownouts in the neighborhood, didn’t want to hear any excuses from Con Ed — they want the fix that will keep their lights shining.
“This is the time of year when we’re at our busiest, decorating our home,” said Sandy Vallas, whose home is festooned with lights, and whose lawn is a riot of blow-up holiday figures. “What would have happened if we’d had company over and we were totally in the dark?”
The brown out was the latest in what Dyker Heights residents are calling all too frequent blackouts in the neighborhood.
“It happens fall, spring, winter, all the time, so it has nothing to do with the lights,” said Fran Vella-Marrone, president of the Dyker Heights Civic Association. “It’s a chronic problem. It happens so often that we all get used to it, but we shouldn’t have to accept this.”
But representatives of Con Ed said the problem is not unique to Dyker Heights.
“It can happen anywhere with an overhead system,” said Con Ed spokesman Chris Olert, who agreed that the neighborhood’s holiday lights may be spectacular, but they are not a major drain on the electric grid.
“It’s relatively minimal,” he said, pointing out that the highest electric usage — even in Dyker — is during the summer when people are using air conditioners.
A little more than 5,000 households — many in holiday lights central — were affected by the evening blackout on the 12th, said Allan Drury, another spokesman for Con Edison. A morning blackout that day impacted around 3,300 homes.