Tripping the Heights Fantastic Lights


When I was a kid, it was traditional to drive around Brooklyn at night to observe and admire the Christmas lights. The unique and dazzling displays that ornamented many a home were a wonder to behold. Things were simpler and more modestly presented in those days. Christmas hadn’t yet taken on its more high-tech allure; the twinkling gizmoes and glistening gadgets of the 1950s/ 1960s lacked today’s more dynamic ornamentation.

Nevertheless, the Dyker Heights section of Brooklyn remains true to its tradition of marvelous and fantastic Christmas lighting. Particularly in the areas around 12th Avenue between 82nd and 85th Streets and 84th Street near 10th Avenue, a dazzling cynosure of illumination emerges each year. From glittering star-pattern arrangements to virtual dioramas of sparkling motion, these residents outdo each other (and themselves) with increasingly elaborate displays that are often true works of art. So much so that the “Dyker Lights” (as it’s now referred to) has become famous, attracting crowds from all over the world. Tour buses include Dyker Heights on their Christmastime itinerary (the Christmas Lights &  Cannoli Tour, for example).


However, this doesn’t always sit well with residents in this quiet part of town, in a less ostentatious and less merry mood. As opposed to their more brightly-adorned and joyfully popular neighbors, they view the neighborhood’s seasonal star status as a curse rather than a blessing . Carloads and busloads of sightseers streaming through the narrow streets, along with spectators wandering across front yards and down backyards of adjacent houses, are activities bound to dampen holiday spirits.


Many heated arguments have occurred in stark contrast to the festivities; a few lawsuits have been filed and served under the mistletoe. Come January, when these Christmas artistes of wondrously colorful lights finally turn off the festive juice, they find that they receive colder greetings and have fewer friends. But that’s show biz in an age desirous of the more spectacular and novel in life’s otherwise mundane affairs.

Photos/ Video: Gothamist