Canarsie’s Christmas house provides backdrop for public and private celebration

The lighting of Canarsie’s Christmas house, at the corner of Flatlands Avenue and East 93rd Street, is always a special occasion.

With upwards of 50,000 lights and some 100 animated figures, the home — now used as his law office by Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair Frank Seddio — is always a focus of excited attention the Sunday following Thanksgiving weekend, December 3, this year, when, with the flick of a switch, the entire magical display comes to life to dazzle passersby until after New Year’s.

“It was a magnificent night,” said Seddio. “The weather was perfect, and the lights were the best ever. We were able to put in place every piece we wanted to. There was an enthusiastic crowd from the beginning. It was just a wonderful, wonderful night.”

This year, there was an added reason to rejoice for Bensonhurst resident Priscilla Consolo, currently in law school but who cut her teeth in politics and community service working for Assemblymember Bill Colton. In front of the crowd of some 3,500 people, her boyfriend of four years, Adam Diamond, proposed to her.

While she admits to the occasion being somewhat “nerve-wracking,” all in all, Consolo said, “I thought it was nice having a large crowd. Everyone seemed very happy. They were cheering and clapping. There was great energy all around, and it was kind of nice sharing the moment with a lot of people.”

Seddio was very much involved in the occurrence. “Frank called me up over the mike,” Consolo recalled. Standing way at the back, she went on, “I couldn’t even get through the crowd but I knew something was going on.”

For the couple, there was a distinct logic in the proposal occurring in conjunction with the annual house-lighting. Not only did Consolo and Diamond have their “first official date” there, but Diamond is one of the volunteers who, over the past several years, has helped Seddio put the display together, spending weekends mounting figures and stringing lights in advance of opening night, no mean feat as the display has grown dramatically since its relatively modest inception in 1963.

Today, displays include a talking Christmas tree, a wizard who recites “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” skating Smurfs, Disney characters, a Zeppelin that travels 15 feet in the air, a hot air balloon that goes up and down, a ferris wheel and a merry-go-round, plus a reindeer family and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa displays.

Given that only volunteers work on mounting the display, it all comes together relatively quickly over a series of weekends preceding the opening. But, they are only a few of those who get involved in making holiday magic.

Also part of the occasion are Santa and his elves, the former, Seddio avers, coming “right from the North Pole,” and a bevy of costumed characters. In addition, music is provided by the P.S. 115 Chorus, the choir from Our Lady of Trust School and the adult choir from Holy Family Church as well as a local steel band.

“They all did a magnificent job,” said Seddio, relishing the success of the evening, during which some 1,800 candy canes were distributed to children there to meet Santa — just one more indication of exactly how large a crowd actually attends opening night.

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