Like the lighting of the Menorah at Cadman Plaza, getting a Christmas card from Marty Markowitz, or getting wasted with Santa Claus at Sunny’s in Red Hook, cruising Dyker Heights during the holidays and gawking in awe at the incandescent splendor of the neighborhood’s Christmas decorations is a Brooklyn holiday tradition.
Each year, neighbors along the main residential strips, from 10th to 13th avenues between Bay Ridge Parkway and 86th Street, vie for bragging rights over who can chalk up the biggest Con Edison bill.
It’s a friendly rivalry that has lasted for generations in Dyker Heights, and neighbors say that it will carry on.
“I’m carrying out a tradition that my mother started,” said Lucy Spata, whose 84th Street house takes the cake as the brightest in the neighorhood. It’s nearly totally covered in lights, nutcrackers, angels and snowflakes, and a man dressed as Elmo will greet you at the door. “[The lights] will always be on, and they’ll always be bigger,” Spata promised.
Wondering how to take full advantage of the holiday splendor? Take a tour!
Start on 12th Avenue and 86th Street and make your way north. This section is relatively tasteful — though, true to the style of the nabe, even the more modestly decorated homes are done big.
Stop at the corner of 85th Street, where Maria Hronopoulos and her family worked for three weeks to put together their decorations, which are heavier on religious imagery than Santa Claus.
A block north, between 83rd and 84th streets, Stephen Brimigion — who will greet you dressed as Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer — will probably ask you for money while you stand and stare at his gargantuan, inflatable toy–covered home. It’s OK — the cash goes to Community Mayors, an agency that helps special needs children.
Not to be outdone, Brimigion’s neighbor, Michael Mazza, has constructed a similarly opulent scheme that tries to steal the show — but ultimately falls short of his red-nosed friend.
Take the next left onto 84th Street. This is where the craziest houses are.
Spata and others have transformed this quiet residential block into an orgiastic homage to Thomas Edison that can probably be seen from space. That block has at least three houses that are essential stops — especially for bus loads of wide-eyed tourists and vendors hocking peanuts. Trust us when we say that you’ll know the houses we’re talking about when you see them.
Once you’ve had your fill, head over to 10th Avenue to decompress and check out Buddy Trocchia’s house between 81st and 82nd, which features a few inflatable Santa Clauses and a lot of lights — but no giant nutcrackers.
On your way out of the nabe, stop by Helen and Guy Cusack’s house on Bay Ridge Parkway between 12th and 13th avenues. It’s low-key, but still littered with a handful of monster snowmen.