There are few things that scream the holidays in Brooklyn more than the wonderfully over-the-top and bright displays in Dyker Heights.
But putting them together is no easy task. Lucy Spata, 58, has been displaying her Christmas spirit in the neighborhood since the mid-’80s.
Then she started getting her neighbors involved. “It didn’t catch on at first but I figured sooner or later they’d have to give in,” she says. “It’s like it’s just something they’re starting to enjoy now.”
Spata’s display has grown over the years and now boasts more than 20,000 lights, more than one dozen large soldiers, snowmen, angels, choir girls and more.
It takes a team of workers about three weeks to put up and is lit in time for Thanksgiving. And while she wouldn’t say what the display costs every year (though she admitted LED energy efficient bulbs are a help), she admits it is “a lot.” Spata puts up the lights every year for her mother, who always loved decorating herself. They moved to Brooklyn from Manhattan in 1970, she says.
For Valerie Polizzotto, who continues to put on her late father Alfred’s light display (one of the grandest in the neighborhood), the inconvenience is worth it. Alfred started his display after battling cancer in the late ’80s.
“When he went into remission, he decided to celebrate life and give back to the community,” she says. “He decided to celebrate life in a grand way and decorate his joy.”
While Alfred passed away several years ago, his family has kept up the tradition. And over the years, Polizzotto says they’ve raised more than $100,000 for charities, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The house, notable for the giant talking Santa, takes a crew of about 10 people two days to put up, and two days to take down. Two life-size carousels, soldiers and more festive staples complete the look.
“It just allows us to celebrate his life and remember … the beautiful heart that he had,” Polizzotto said about her dad.