Despite Covid, the Brooklyn neighborhood remains a flashy Christmas village

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New York (AFP)

In a New York City where traditional holiday performances are canceled, Rockefeller Center tree tours are timed and travel misguided, it’s starting to look a lot like Covid Grinch stole Christmas.

But in Brooklyn’s illuminated Dyker Heights neighborhood, even a pandemic can’t stop the party spirit.

The quasi-suburban residential neighborhood features large single-family homes that by the end of November begin to sparkle with elaborate vacation displays.

This year, tourism is limited, as are bus tours in the southwestern neighborhood of Brooklyn which proudly displays its Italian-American heritage.

But her Christmas glow in your face still draws large crowds, even though most are wearing masks.

“I’m impressed,” said Eric Steiner, who traveled from Manhattan with her husband to see the exhibits for the first time.

“It’s such a festive spirit at a time when things are, you know, uncertain and scary for a lot of people,” the 47-year-old told AFP outside a house draped in thousands of twinkling lights.

According to local lore, the tradition began in the mid-1980s, with a woman named Lucy Spata in honor of her mother’s memory.

His house is barely visible behind the lavish display with angels, Santas, nutcrackers and a golden throne with a crimson coating where enthusiasts can snap photos.

“A lot of people are depressed,” said Holiday Lights tour guide Robert Perez.

“I think it brings a bit of laughter and happiness. ”

– ‘For kids’ –

Vincent Privitelli usually starts decorating his house right after Halloween, and it takes about a month to put all the elements in place, including the dazzled evergreen arches.

The 33-year-old – who sometimes appears in a costume like Rudolph – said he and his family were debating whether to decorate in 2020.

“I said ‘you know what, I’m going to do it this year’ – with Covid and all, for the kids. We need something positive, ”he says, with a string of vintage-style bulbs around his neck.

Tour guide Perez said this year was different in that most of the people who came for the lights are local – “you had people from Italy, Europe” in the past, he said. .

For Christine Kong, who has ventured out from neighboring New Jersey, the holiday season was a time to “reflect on everything that has happened this year”.

It’s “a different kind of excitement – and I guess that’s encouraging, compared to what’s going to happen in 2021”.

“Because it can’t get any worse than that,” said the 31-year-old.

The festivities block traffic and make parking impossible, but the lights are a boon to local businesses.

John’s Deli’s Robert Cicero serves cup after cup of hot chocolate, as well as the heroes sandwich dripping with mozzarella and red sauce.

“I thought it would be a great thing for people not to come – but I guess people come because they want to be outside,” and still get into the spirit of the holidays, Cicero said.

“Listen, everyone loves Rockefeller Center,” he continued, referring to the city’s annual tree made famous by decades of pop culture references.

But Cicero said the five-minute timed viewings at this attraction this year make places like Dyker Heights more appealing.

“Christmas in Dyker Heights… that’s really what it’s all about,” said Privitelli, who has lived there for 30 years.

“Who needs Rockefeller Center? ”

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