Big, brash light displays draw some bah-humbugs
NEW YORK — It’s a neighborhood Christmas display with New York City attitude: big, brash, loud and over-the-top.
Blazing lights, giant toy soldiers, angels, snowmen, wise men, Santas and piped-in Sinatra caroling form an all-out barrage on the senses from nearly every house in the heart of Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights neighborhood, an annual extravaganza that draws thousands of tourists every evening by the car and busload.
But it has some residents just wishing for a silent night.
“As pretty as it can be, it’s difficult,” says Linda Rebmann, 72, who has lived in Dyker Heights all her life and has only an unlit cranberry wreath on her home. “It’s a little out of hand. It’s gotten to be a bit much.”
Nobody is talking about pulling the plug on the displays, which are still a source of neighborhood pride. But there has been extra grumbling this season, especially after some parking spots usually used by residents were blocked off for rows of tour buses.
“This close to Christmas you can’t walk. It’s like Manhattan,” says Joyce Arpino, 55, a resident for three decades. She says she stopped decorating inside her windows because gawkers would peer inside and rap on the glass. Tourists used to park in front of her house or even in her driveway until she set out some orange traffic cones.
“I don’t want to sound like a Scrooge,” she
says, “but it’s horrible.”
To that, residents like 30-year-old Vinny Privitelli respond: lighten up.
This year, he spent all of November and thousands of dollars to install strings of red and white lights on his roof and around every window and adorn his lawn with reindeer, a trio of dancing elves and a nativity scene. Mr. Privitelli admits part of the fun is trying to outdo his neighbors, some of whom hire professionals to do their displays. And he has no problem with the throngs of visitors who come to check it out.
“It’s nice to see them enjoying it, that’s what we get out of it,” he says. “Everything in the news is negative, so at least we get one positive thing.”
A sign in front of a decorated house warns visitors to keep off the premises in the Dyker Heights neighborhood of New York.