‘Tis the season for some good old-fashion tradition.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year for Dyker Heights, a small southwest Brooklyn nabe known New York-wide for its larger-than-life holiday displays. The community – lauded as “Con Ed’s warmest heartthrob” and the “undisputed capital of Christmas pageantry” by The New York Times – has once again decked its halls.
“Every year, as we know, it’s a tradition in the Dyker Heights community that we celebrate the Christmas season by putting up decorations and lights and so forth that really bring the spirit of Christmas to the community and to the people, really, throughout New York City,” explained Dyker Heights Civic Association President Fran Vella-Marrone. “We have people visiting Dyker Heights this time of year from just about everywhere. Everyone is taking notice.”
Since the late ‘80s – though no residents are really sure of when the lights sparked such a buzz – those from neighboring communities have made the trek either by foot or by car to good ol’ Dyker Heights to marvel at the holiday masterpieces.
Today, many make the trip from neighboring states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Manhattanites even traveling in on ticketed bus tours like A Slice of Brooklyn’s three-and-a-half-hour look at the “Dyker Lights” (which also makes a stop at a local pastry shop for some hot chocolate and a cannoli).
Running up and down avenues and across streets, the scenic spectacle’s biggest and brightest can be seen from 10th Avenue to 12th Avenue across the 80s – some lights hung as early as Thanksgiving weekend.
For many, the Dyker Lights serve as a neighborhood institution.
“It’s a beautiful tradition; the spirit, the energy, everyone is just so happy,” said local resident Renea Gargiulo, who started the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights Facebook page “on a whim” four years ago. “It’s been something that I’ve attended every year traditionally and, being so close to the area and living in the neighborhood, I’ve always loved it.”
The page, she said, serves as a landing page for both locals and out-of-towners.
“I started getting tons and tons of messages from people around the country and even from different countries around the world who wanted to come and visit,” said Gargiulo, “so I started posting dates to help the visitors with the trips, and to help the community filter information.”
Since its inception, the page has garnered more than 7,000 likes, with fans using the platform for more than just photo sharing.
“This year was extra special because I had the opportunity to support one of the local residents with a fundraiser for the Fort Hamilton Army Base,” noted Gargiulo. “I think that really defines this community – everyone giving back and caring.”
They all have something in common, though, she said. “We just love the lights.”