While Manhattan’s sparkling holiday displays are iconic, homeowners in the city’s other four boroughs create experiences that can be just as spectacular, with breathtaking lights, animatronics and spirited celebrations each year.
Dazzling homes dripping with lights never disappoint, especially those that have lit up annually for decades, which is why it is important to get out of Manhattan to visit them, even if the trip seems long.
One such home, dubbed “The Little North Pole” by its owner Joe Mure, has been decorated for the past 23 years — except for when superstorm Sandy hit — in the Neponsit neighborhood of Rockaway Beach. Every year, in addition to string lights that are “all over the friggin’ place,” he and his family set out a Hannukah menorah, dreidels, a large, lit-up globe, ballroom dancing figures and animatronic animals. Mure even transforms his garage into Santa’s workshop.
This year, he’ll be able to light it all up with an app on his cellphone and make the lights dance to music.
“It’s always gotten bigger over the years,” Mure said. “It’s much different than what you’d see at other places — they do great work and so many of them out there are great people, but by us, we put smiles on children’s faces, we give them a memory of Christmas that they’ll never forget.”
Each first lighting is a big event with singers and performers. This year’s was on Nov. 14 with tenor Chris Macchio, performers from the USO and a visit from Santa Claus and others. Even though the lineup changes year to year, the reason for it all remains the same.
Mure’s son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes about 20 years ago and so with each holiday display, he collects donations for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund. This year, he’s already raised more than $30,000, according to his fundraising page. Special needs children and athletes from the Special Olympics also visit for a fun time, he said.
Photographer Barry Brown, who shoots the home yearly and also has a son with Type 1, says the display is like an oasis of joy.
“If you listen to news reports, there’s a lot of negativity out there, so when I see a house like this, I get a good feeling,” he said. “As a photographer, seeing this display and the lights and all the mechanical merry-go-rounds moving on his property gives me a nice burst of excitement that the holidays are coming and everything is going to be fine.”
With that joy mind, we’ve gathered a list of some of the best holiday light displays across Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and the Bronx.
(Note: Most homes light up as the sun goes down and go dark after 9 p.m.)