Try the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights Walking Tour, Brooklyn
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Spending Christmas in New York? If you want to do something different and feel like you’re in a Chevy Chase movie, try the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights Walking Tour in Brooklyn.
Dyker Heights is a lovely, quiet residential area not far from 86th Street metro station in Brooklyn.
The area was originally built in the late 1800’s by developer Walter L. Johnson. It was to be a luxury housing development and has been a middle-class neighbourhood since. It’s mostly been Italian-Americans that have traditionally lived in the area with some Greek Americans. However, in recent years, there’s now many Chinese Americans that have also made it their home.
Dyker Heights sits in the boundaries of what used to be the Dutch town, New Utrecht. The name Dyker Heights is thought to come from dikes which were built by Dutch farmers who used to operate on the land before it was redeveloped. Their name was “Van Dyke.”
The Lights of Dyker Heights
One of the stories about the Dyker Heights Lights would suggest that a woman called Lucy Spata is believed to have started the Dyker Heights lights tradition in the mid-1980’s. Apparently, she decided to put the lights up as it was very blank in the area with no lights at all. Despite her neighbours complaining, she continued to add even more lights.
But was it really Lucy who started it all or was it a Mr Alfred Palizzotto?
There’s another story which says it was Alfred who started it all after he found out he had cancer. He wanted to cheer everyone up in the neighbourhood by hanging up colourful lights and decorations.
However it started, over the years the neighbours would complain about the lights, but they stayed up. Eventually it seemed as though some people thought that if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, and more houses began adding lights.
After being featured in a television documentary, Dyker Heights has since become a popular sightseeing destination.
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The Dyker Heights Lights season starts before Thanksgiving and finishes approximately 31st December each year.
Despite seeming coordinated, the lights that envelope some of the houses in Dyker Heights are not arranged by an organisation or done as part of a stunt. They’re all done by their homeowners who wanted to decorate their property. In some cases, it’s literally the owners who’ve put up all the decor themselves. Others will enlist the help of decorative companies like B&R Christmas Decorators or Di Meglio. They are hired just for the Christmas season only, so three months job. November is the installation time and preparation starts in December for maintenance and fixing stuff and then in January everything’s taken down.
The company B&R has more than 100 houses as clients in Dyker Heights. The cheapest install job is $1,000 (provided by your guide at the time of writing, Dec 2022).
The Brooklyn Unplugged Tour
I took the tour with Brooklyn Unplugged Tours.
Starting 1st December and running until 30th December, the walking tour takes about 90 minutes.
There are various tour times so please check. When I went there was a tour at 4.30 pm and 5 pm but there are tours as late as 7 pm and 7.30 pm depending on the schedule.
The tour is included with the Sightseeing Pass, New York Pass and Go City Pass.
I really enjoyed the tour. While you could do your own DIY your I think going via a tour company will give you a chance to hear about the history and previous experiences and meet new people if you’re travelling solo.
Top decorated homes to visit
The Lucy Spata house is the top Christmas spot in Brooklyn. It’s not as big as many of the others but it’s absolutely jam packed with hundreds of lights and decorations.
Address: 1152 84th St, Brooklyn NY 11228
The Frank Mangano house is one of the brightest houses decorated. It’s also the first house with an instagram account and an instagram spot for taking pictures.
Address: 1023 83rd St, Brooklyn NY 11228
If you’re in Brooklyn in December and want to do something a little different, take the Dyker Heights Christmas Lights Walking Tour in Brooklyn.
Looking for something else to do in New York? Visit one of the viewing platforms in Manhattan – read my post on 4 places to get sky high views in Manhattan, New York.
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