DYKER HEIGHTS — We knew the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights display is a popular tourist attraction, but guided tours of the neighborhood for $399?
That’s what one tour company is promoting and community leaders said they’re not a bit surprised.
“Everybody is making a mint, everybody but the community,” Dyker Heights Civic Association President Fran Vella-Marrone told the Home Reporter after she learned that a company called Family in New York, Inc. offers private tours of Dyker Heights during the Christmas season for $399.
The company runs tours of Dyker Heights from Dec. 1 to Dec. 30, according to its website. www.familyinnewyork.com. The tours, which use minivans to transport passengers, take four hours.
“Our Dyker Heights Christmas tour highlights a Brooklyn neighborhood that can be seen from outer space at Christmas time, due to the volume and density of all of its Christmas lights and decorations. Neighborhood residents spend tens of thousands of dollars each year decorating their homes and yards for Christmas, with many hiring professional decorators,” a promotion on the company’s website reads.
There are other companies that offer guided tours of Dyker Heights, including one that has a fleet of stretch limos and features excursions that start at $595 for a five-hour jaunt.
The high-priced tours are further proof that the Dyker Heights Christmas lights display has truly hit the big time, said Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann. “It has become a tourist destination,” she told the Home Reporter.
The $399 tour caused a flurry of comments on Facebook after one user posted a link to it.
“Am I seeing things? Starting at $399. Who is getting rich? Not Dyker Heights,” wrote Sandy Irrera.
“This is ridiculous that u (sic) have to pay [to] see the lights. I pass by for free. Not worth 400 dollars,” Effie Noufrios wrote in a comment.
The Christmas lights display started out decades ago as a small, neighborhood-oriented event. It has grown in popularity in recent years.
From Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day, dozens of Dyker Heights homeowners put on a jaw-dropping extravaganza, decorating their front lawns and balconies with thousands of twinkling lights, giant Santas, dancing reindeer, enormous “Nutcracker Suite” figures, snowflakes and glowing angels.
Visitors come on foot, in cars, even tour buses to take a look.
“I knew about the big tour buses. That has been happening for years,” Vella-Marrone said. “Last year, I started to notice minivans on the street. Whenever there’s a new development, we have to adjust to it. We can’t stop them from coming. They are allowed to travel the city.”
The tourism boom in a residential community like Dyker Heights “shows why we need extra resources from the city during the Christmas season,” Beckmann said.
The city has made efforts to control traffic. The NYPD assigns additional cops to the neighborhood. Last month, the City Council passed a bill sponsored by Councilmember Justin Brannan to ban sidewalk vendors at most hours during the holiday season.
There are signs that tour company operators are aware that Dyker Heights is not Rockefeller Center.
Family in New York, Inc., for example, starts its tours early.
“We start no later than 6 p.m., as the residents of the neighborhood use 9 p.m. as the hour to begin turning their lights off. One warning in advance, it takes a while to get there during the evening rush hour,” the website promotion reads.
Representatives of Family in New York, Inc. did not return messages.