Tourists from all over the world are leaving Manhattan to come to Brooklyn and experience the grandeur of Christmas lights right here in Dyker Heights.
Tony Muia started his pizza tour in August of 2005. A year later, the business had slowed down and after making a list of possible tour ideas, he came up with the Christmas and Cannoli Tour, going now on its seventh year.
“I want people to come away realizing that they can come to Brooklyn and experience the decorations and that it is okay to leave Manhattan,” Muia said. Across the Hudson River, people visiting from Ireland, England, Spain and all over the United States get to see what Brooklyn is like for the holidays.
Each bus, holding approximately 52 passengers, goes out from Manhattan on a three-and-a-half-hour tour, with participants getting off at certain stops for pictures. Two to five buses make the trip every night. Tickets cost $55 for adults and $45 for children less than 12 years of age.
According to Muia, there is only one “big tree,” at Rockefeller Center, but he says Brooklyn has much more to offer. He stresses that tourists are blown away by the volume of the wonderful decorations and that they all have an idea of what to expect, but once they actually arrive, they can’t believe their eyes. For anyone who hasn’t seen it, homes include glowing nativity trees, 30-foot-tall toy soldiers, animated toys and much more.
“It’s still an Italian neighborhood clustered together,” Muia expressed, adding that people’s expectations are more than met.
Christmas music from the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s is played throughout the trip and a multimedia presentation at the end of the tour, once it goes back to Manhattan, includes vintage Christmas variety specials starring the likes of Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby.
“I want people to see that Christmas is even better and bigger in Brooklyn!” concluded Muia.
The tour concludes with a taste of cannolis and hot chocolate provided by Villabate Bakery, from Bensonhurst.
For more information, check http://asliceofbrooklyn.com/christmas.html.