Brooklyn's 'Dyker Lights' try to outshine Rockefeller Center

Tue Dec 24, 2013 12:54pm EST
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By Edith Honan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - To say the people of Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, get into the Christmas spirit might be the understatement of the holiday season.

The front yard of one house is so packed with trumpeting angels and Santa Clauses that there would be no space if the owner's imagination conjured up anything else.

Across the street, the theme is "Toyland," with a giant mechanical Santa, two carousels and an assortment of figurines done up in Christmas lights.

"The first time I came here, I said, 'Wow, the people here really have the holiday spirit,'" said Hank Orenstein, who was leading a walking tour a few days before Christmas.

"Or a really healthy sense of competition," said Judy Anderson, a college professor who was taking the tour.

Located in southern Brooklyn, 14 miles from Rockefeller Center, Dyker Heights is a quiet, Italian-American enclave of spacious, if sometimes ostentatious, single-family homes.

Around 1986, Lucy Spata filled her front lawn with a dazzling, over-the-top display of Christmas lights. At first, the neighbors complained. Eventually, they joined in.

These days, the neighborhood calls itself Dyker Lights and welcomes several thousand visitors arriving on tour buses from Manhattan. Many residents even employ professional Christmas decorators to set up their displays and keep the lights in storage during the 11-month off-season.   Continued...