Yes, the title is rhyme-tastic, but this is appropriate as I just recently returned from…
ANOTHER FREE HOLIDAY ACTIVITY!!! WOO! (and you know I like free.)
Dyker Heights Lights: It sounds curiously like a prime time television drama, but I assure you, it’s not. It’s actually a renowned holiday event in Dyker Heights, an affluent Brooklyn nabe, where the residents take their Christmas lights decorating VERY seriously. In fact, they have developed such a reputation for their extravagance, that you can find NYC residents and tourists alike doing the slow drive by (or walk by) on every night during the holiday season.
I first heard of this ongoing event after Googling “free Christmas things to do in NYC,” where I found a link to an About.com article (this one). Through this article, I learned that the participating homeowners in this neighborhood take their reputation so seriously that they often hire professional, um… Christmas-lights-decorating-folk in an attempt to outdo their neighbors. And it shows.
Well, you know me… I see the words “free holiday activity” and I pounce. Not to mention, the prospect of sharing all of this with you via blog post! So, with Josh as the pilot, me as the navigator, and our friends Mark and Maria as enthusiastic company in the back seat, we set out on our journey. As it turns out, Dyker Heights is only 4.5 miles from our home. (This seems really close, but in NYC context, it’s not as everything is really close in miles, but mostly just accessible by mass transit or foot.) We rarely drive in the city, but we decided to for this particular occasion and it took us ten minutes to get there. It would have taken less time, but we weren’t the only ones driving to Dyker Heights to see the lights!
Of course, I got some pics, as did Maria on her iPhone. Without further ado, here is Dyker Heights Lights in all of its sometimes-classy-sometimes-tacky glory:
This display was actually at one of the nearby apartment buildings that we passed on our way to the big show. However, the majority of the light displays are found at single family residences. But you know… Christmas lights decorating is contagious, so we found a lot of it going on in the fringes of the neighborhood.
The same row of apartment buildings, but this is a view down the street. Just to show you how far the contagion has spread.
Aw…. how sweet. But tame in comparison to its neighbors. Perhaps this would be deemed the underachiever house. You’ll see what I mean in a minute.
Another tame display. But lovely all the same.
Pretty… It’s hard to tell from this picture, but so many of these houses, i.e., those things under the high wattage of electricty, are pretty incredible. Mansion is usually the best descriptor. Driving in this neighborhood, I would swear I was anywhere but Brooklyn, NY, if not based on the sheer size of the real estate alone.
Another pretty one…
The big guns. This was the house. And as you can see, they did not limit their decor to just lights and wreaths with bows…. oh no. Also, note the other people who stopped to take pictures — they do not live in this neighborhood. Like I said, it’s sort of an area attraction.
The house again. There was a lot going on here, and my camera didn’t capture even half of it.
Maria got some things on her iPhone that I’m just now seeing for the first time.
The house again. And there’s the star that the wise men followed on the left (just kidding). I’m not really sure what a big balloon has to do with Christmas, but I’m no over-achieving Dyker Heights homeowner, so what do I know?
They’ve got Santa, they’ve got balloons, they’ve got Jesus, they’ve got gingerbread houses, they’ve got carolers…. They’ve got ALL of their bases covered.
At The House they were asking for donations to help serve children with special needs. I only know this because I just read that sign. I’m not exactly sure how that worked as we never got out of the car, but I guess it’s good that a noble cause is being served through all of this house’s
tackiness decorations. :)
Moving on from the house, we have attained a sense of calm once again. In most any other neighborhood in the country, this would be “that pretty house with the lights.” However, here in Dyker Heights, it’s almost yawn-worthy by comparison.
Take away the scary Santa, and I’m all about it. Oh, and in case you’re all “What? He’s not that scary!” here’s a close-up:
See what I mean? No thanks.
Less tacky, more lovely. Not the norm here, but I like it!
Hark! The herald angels sing.
No really, they are (in this picture). Very elegant! Especially the English Tudor house behind the decoartions.
“Less is more” means nothing to these people.
(And hey, history buffs, I bet you didn’t know that there were Victorian carolers at the birth of Jesus?!)
Yep, more is more. And I like it.
Hope you enjoyed that mini tour of Dyker Heights Lights! For every picture here, there are probably five houses that we didn’t take pictures of, so yeah… pretty crazy. Crazy awesome that is.
And how many dollars did said awesome adventure cost? Zero!
Here’s a handy dandy map outlining the Dyker Heights neighborhood to give you an idea of where to find the best displays:
(click on image for a link to this location in Google maps):
However, like I said, the Christmas spirit — along with the need to express it in electrical and blow-up-snowman form — is contagious, so you will see light displays on the outskirts of this nabe as well as within it.
So, if you plan on visiting NYC any time between the day after Thanksgiving and New Year’s, I highly recommend this hour-ish long excursion. It’s easy to find by car: 11th Avenue to 13th Avenue and 83rd to 86th Street, in Southwest-ish Brooklyn. You can take transit to get there, but considering that the closest subway station is a mile away (and I’m sure that’s on purpose), I recommend going by car. But don’t go too late in the evening, as some homeowners turn their displays off as early as 9:00!
(Because nothing is too much when it comes to decorating a Dyker Heights home for the holidays, but they draw the line at staying up late…)
Other thangs you might like:
Twelve Weeks of Christmas (ongoing series)