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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Worth Seeing Again

A good friend and colleague, well known for his indulgence in the performing arts, will typically see multiple performances of the same show. I questioned him once about this and his response was, "Anything worth seeing once is worth seeing again." He is the dream patron of the arts.

To some extent, our rituals and customs follow the same logic, and Christmas is perhaps one of the best examples of lavish ritual in this country. New York City is renowned for it Christmas displays and ornamentation, which draws people from around the world to see the tree at Rockefeller Center, the store window displays at Macy's and along Fifth Avenue, and performances such as the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall.

I have featured many of the window displays yearly on this website. Some, like those at Bergdorf Goodman, are extraordinary design works and are a must see if you are in the city at this time of year.

One of the most lavish displays of Christmas lights is the annual extravaganza in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn. See the article and gallery of photos from 2006 here. The luxury homes, many of which cold be considered min-mansions, are decked like no other neighborhood at Yule time. See my gallery of photos here.

I have not made it a plan to visit the neighborhood every year at Christmas, but it has turned out that way. I frequent Bay Ridge regularly to visit my favorite restaurant, First Oasis, and it is only a short jaunt by car to Dyker Heights. The lighting displays are typically up from after Thanksgiving until the New Year, affording over one month of opportunity.

The start of the over-the-top tradition is generally credited to Lucy Spata. The Spatas' residence is located at 1152 84th Street. This block, 84th Street between 11th and 12th Avenue, is the epicenter of the displays, with the homes of the Polizzottos (Toyland) (1145 84th St.), the Rizzutos (1062 84th St.), the Lambrones (8304 12th Ave.), and Jerry Bonanno.

Donations are collected for various charities such as St. Anthony's and the American Cancer Society.
For those without the means or inclination to go out on their own, Brooklyn native Tony Muia now offers a Christmas Lights & Cannoli Tour, leaving from Union Square every weekend in December. Perhaps I'll go back - after all, anything worth seeing once is worth seeing again :)

Note: Our patron of the arts, loosely quoted at the beginning of this story, is Hovey Burgess. During the writing of this article, I called to verify the actual language of his statement. He pointed out that his sentiment is that anything worth seeing once is worth seeing repeatedly - i.e. again and again.


Annie said...

ah yes, I agree. If one can afford it of course!

But Christmas lights are in a different league, and free...and who can stay away! Especially if there are small children involved!

Gunn White said...

This is amazing!!

wrickel said...

Christmas light always amazing me

Massimiliano said...

Hi, i'm italian, i saw this "spectacle" for the 1st time during my vacation in NY 3 weeks ago.My cousins took me there.
Really amazing!!