By counting candy canes, Kings County Democratic Chair Frank Seddio has a pretty good idea how many people were on hand to watch the lighting of his beloved holiday house on the evening of Sunday, December 4 – and it was “one of the biggest turnouts ever,” he said.
Approximately 950 of the sweets were given out to kids lined up to speak with Santa that evening, and Seddio calculates that each child in attendance was accompanied by two adults – making the turnout somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,500 to 3,000 people, all told.
“It was just cold enough to make people know it’s Christmas, and warm enough to be comfortable,” Seddio added.
In his role as a holiday impresario, Seddio, an attorney, has presided over his little corner of the North Pole at Flatlands Avenue and East 93rd Street for decades, taking over a tradition begun in 1963 by the prior owner of the home.
He’s also expanded the collection, which today is valued at some $350,000 and includes half a million lights and nearly 100 animated figures ranging from Stumpy, a Christmas tree that talks to the Winter Wizard who recites “A Visit from St. Nicholas” to skating Smurfs to a four-foot-tall parrot who tells jokes. And, while many of the decorations are Yule-themed, others are representative of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.
New this year are the mechanized hot air balloon that goes up and down, a nine-foot-tall Minion guarding a merry-go-round ridden by more Minions, a nine-foot wreath on the house’s top roof and a 12-foot-long Christmas train on the home’s other roof.
The transformation of the house into a holiday home takes a little over a month, and is all done by volunteers – friends and family of Seddio who spend their weekends on the labor of love, which begins the last weekend in October.
It all culminates on opening night, when the lighting of the home is accompanied by musical entertainment provided by local singers (the chorus at P.S. 115 and the choir of St. Bernard’s Church) and a steel band.
There’s also a serious side to the evening, as, each year, tribute is paid to someone who has died over the previous year. This year, it was the late Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, who succumbed to cancer this fall, but who had, in his three years at the post, made a huge difference, by, among other things, establishing a model Conviction Review Unit which, in three years, moved to vacate or support the dismissal of the convictions of 21 people who were wrongfully convicted of murder and other offenses.
The lights will be on until January 6. After that, the countdown begins for next year’s display, which Seddio said will include a 25-foot-tall replica of the Parachute Jump in Coney Island that’s being designed right now.
“I’m very excited about it,” Seddio noted.