What Is This 25-foot Santa Doing In Dyker Heights?

It's unlike anything you've ever seen in New York.  Which is precisely why it's such a New York thing.  

Dyker Heights is smallish neighborhood nestled between Bensonhurst to the east and Bay Ridge to the west.  It's a classic old school Italian neighborhood, with a very fantastic holiday tradition.

The online magazine Brklynr, whose in-depth articles about Brooklyn affairs covers topics like community policing in East New York, or surveying the landscape of Coney Island through the eyes of Hubert Selby, published a wonderfully written and photographed piece last year about the residents of Dyker Heights and their viral neighborhood display of Christmas lights, which has grown in fame and visitor counts each year.  

PHOTO BY WILL ELLIS for BRKLYNR (using zoom technique)

PHOTO BY WILL ELLIS for BRKLYNR (using zoom technique)

Although the origin story is murky (no one seems to know who started it) the neighborhood boasts over a hundred participating residents and some of the most extravagant displays of holiday spirit imaginable.  It's pure visual spectacle, all blinking lights and reindeer and oversized Santas, spread out over a system of over a dozen city blocks.  

"If you can’t take the kids to Disneyworld or Disneyland, you bring them here,” notes longtime resident Angela Locombo.  It's fitting that Dyker Heights would serve as the backdrop for theme park-like illumination with its array of fantasy homes: Greco-roman statues, neo-colonialist columns and balconies, Old World villas and perfectly manicured flora.  This is their yearly coming-out party, a tradition that stretches back over 40 years.  

It's also the perfect place and time for night photography, and with lights going up beginning around Thanksgiving and reaching full tilt in mid-December, it's chance to capture a true winter wonderland.  Bring a tripod (essential), a flash if you have one, and get ready to reach the absolute zenith of holiday cheer.