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Stories behind impressive Christmas lights in Queens and Brooklyn

The light-bright houses of Dyker Heights, may get the tour buses during the holiday season, but there are some other shining standouts worth a trip this year. We visited three mesmerizing houses in Queens and Brooklyn that deck the halls and then some. Each has a unique tradition and backstory, but all have presumably one thing in common - very large electric bills for the month of December.

The hard work -- and the extra expense -- are all worth it to these families, who make sure to cover every inch of their property with twinkling lights, waving Santas, and snowman statues, all for the sake of spreading neighborhood joy.

One trip to either one of these homes and you'll realize something special is happening. Enraptured drivers slow down as they pass, excited kids squeal with delight and adults snap pictures on their smartphones. If your house is the backdrop of a selfie, you know you're doing something right.

Santa certainly won't be able to miss these houses, and neither should you!

The Gurino Family: 185-07 80th Drive, Jamaica Estates, Queens

This house doesn't just encourage ogling - although

This house doesn't just encourage ogling - although there's certainly more than enough to gawk at. It also prides itself on visitor participation. The most interactive house we visited, it includes a hot chocolate and coffee station and free cookies for all. Holiday music plays on a loop, and people are allowed to get close enough to examine the home's intricate window displays.

The spectacle is the passion project of Anthony Gurino, a 71-year-old grandfather, who’s in the construction business. The family has been doing it up big for about four years, and they start stringing lights right after Labor Day. His 22-year-old grandson, also named Anthony Gurino, acts as the unofficial family spokesman.

"My grandfather is really carrying on the tradition of my grandmother. She passed away many years ago now," Gurino, a student at nearby St. John's University, explained. "And he likes to give to the community too."

This year, to give a little something extra,
Photo Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

This year, to give a little something extra, the family has enlisted Christmas carolers to come and sing for visitors; they've set up a prominent Toys for Tots donation box; and on the 21st, they'll be throwing a big holiday bash for the neighborhood that will include food, music and family-friendly activities.

"They love it," the younger Gurino said of the reaction from locals. "There's something for everyone to enjoy."

Lights are on from 4pm to midnight until "Little Christmas," January 6.

The Lynch Family: 166-04 23rd Avenue, Whitestone, Queens

Kevin Lynch's home in Whitestone is a candy-colored

Kevin Lynch's home in Whitestone is a candy-colored Christmas confection. With approximately half a million LED lights and 100 animatronics, it takes about seven weeks to complete - Lynch does all the decorating himself - and when it's finished, it illuminates the entire block.

There's a tree on the lawn so covered in lights - 4,000 lights, to be exact - that it's taken on the appearance of a giant gumdrop. The newest decorative addition? Santa riding atop a JetBlue airplane - a festive tribute to Lynch's part-time employer.

According to Lynch, little kids especially love the virtual Santa in the window. "They think Santa Claus really lives here," said Lynch, a 56-year-old retired FDNY firefighter and father of three.

If Lynch's house already looks familiar to you,
Photo Credit: Andrea Tuccillo

If Lynch's house already looks familiar to you, that's because it was featured on ABC's “The Great Christmas Light Fight” last year and won the $50,000 top prize. Yes, it's that good.

"People come by here and it just puts a smile on their face, so if you're in a bad mood just come here," Lynch said.

Just don't ask him his electric bill. He'll only tell you if you're willing to pay it! He does, however, take donations for St. Mary's children's hospital.

Lights are on every evening until "Little Christmas," January 6.

The Seddio Family: 93-06 Flatlands Avenue, Canarsie, Brooklyn

Brooklyn's Democratic Chairman Frank Seddio has Christmas spirit

Brooklyn's Democratic Chairman Frank Seddio has Christmas spirit to spare. His Canarsie home-turned-law-office is adorned with a holiday display so massive, it can be seen by plane's flying overhead. The Seddio family carries on a tradition started in 1963 by the home's previous owner, Frank Guarino. Seddio, who bought the house in 1986, used to help Guarino decorate when he was a teen.

The house, which is decorated each year by a team of about 20 family volunteers, boasts Disney-inspired animatronics, a talking Christmas tree that recites a comedy routine, and a new feature this year - a mechanical blimp that runs across the top of the house.

According to Seddio, decorations have been designed and commissioned from 10 different states and at least two different countries.

Opening night took place on Sunday, Dec.7, complete
Photo Credit: Andrea Tuccillo

Opening night took place on Sunday, Dec.7, complete with live animals for the Nativity scene, a choir, and a 2,500-person turn out. Seddio said he estimated the number of people who showed up based on the number of candy canes he handed out that night.

"I love coming up with new ideas," Seddio said. "The animals this year were a new creation." He said the Christmas display is the only thing he doesn't mind bragging about. And once you see it, you'll understand why.

Lights are on from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. until "Little Christmas," January 6.


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