Lights to Frights: Halloween decorator turns Dyker Heights into awesome haunted amusement park

Lights to Frights: Halloween decorator turns Dyker Heights into awesome haunted amusement park
John Napoli

You know Dyker Heights and Dyker Lights, but have you heard of Dyker Frights?

Horror enthusiast and long-time Dyker Heights resident Anthony George is turning the Christmas light capital of Brooklyn into a spooky wonderland with his annual Halloween yard decorations. Consisting of animatronic creatures, live actors and a sprawling smorgasbord of sinister ornaments spanning three lawns, George’s so-called “Dyker Frights” attracted an estimated 1,500 visitors from all over the tri-state area on October 31st this year, and that number is only growing.

“The block was packed,” said John Napoli, a Dyker Heights resident who was outside George’s home on Halloween night. “People are spreading the word so it’s been getting more and more popular every year.”

For the past 15 years, George has decorated his home located on 79th Street between 11th and 12th streets in mid-September and left the spook-tacular scene up until mid-November. Always working alone, Dyker Frights took George two full days of decorating when he first started. Today, he said it takes him ten hours, even though the number of decorations has grown to the point of flooding into the lawns of two obliging neighbors.

“I have it down to a science,” said George, who works as a graphic designer when he isn’t busy spooking-up the neighborhood. “I love design, I love to be scared and scaring other people, and I’ve been really into Halloween since I was a kid. It’s fun for me.”

The preparations don’t begin and end in September, however. Throughout the year, George attends antique shows, flee markets, and horror conventions to find new items for his monstrous menagerie. He also attends Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights in Florida every year seeking inspiration.

After the animatronics, lights, and audio recordings are prepared, George enlists his friends and family to hide themselves amid the robot ghouls, surprising children by suddenly springing to life. Fortunately, George’s wife was on hand to pass out some 7,200 pieces of candy at her husband’s hand-crafted carnival.

An estimated 1,500 visitors swarmed 79th St. to see Dyker Frights this Halloween.
John Napoli

“I bring my nephews and their friends every year,” said Napoli. “They were scared silly when I first took them, they’d never seen anything like it before. But, ever since then, they look forward to it — they ask me all the time if we’re going to ‘that house.’ I think they like the challenge of it.”

Unlike Dyker Heights’ Christmas lights, Community Board District Manager Josephine Beckmann says Dyker Frights has received a fairly small amount of complaints from residents in the area, even as attendance and press coverage continues to rise.

Even so, 79th Street residents have already taken action to ensure that their block stays safe as the display become more popular. In past years, the city sent cops to monitor the block on Halloween night, but this year 79th Streets residents worked with Councilman Justin Brannan to get a block party permit, completely shutting down traffic on the block and keeping visitors at ease as children enjoyed George’s haunted display and trick-or-treated at the block’s other boo-tifully decorated homes.

“I heard only positive feedback from the area residents who enjoyed the Dyker Frights display this year and the residents on 79th Street,” said Beckmann.

This year’s display will stay up and welcome visitors for another week, if not longer, according to George. He said he has no plans to branch out from creepy decor.

“People always ask me why I don’t decorate for Christmas too,” said George. “The answer is that, first of all, I’m wiped out after Halloween, and second, I just like it better than Christmas, so why would I? But it’s great living in a neighborhood where we celebrate every holiday to the fullest.”

A 10-year-old dressed as a twisted doll blended in among the anamatronic creatures at Dyker Frights and spooked onlookers.
John Napoli