Lucy Spata remembers those dark ages all too well. She and her husband, Angelo, moved here in 1986 and were disappointed with the simplicity of their neighbors’ homes during the holidays.
So they decided to do something about it.
âThere was no decoration on that block. And Christmas means a lot to me because I come from a family that has always decorated for Christmas,â said Lucy Spata. âSo I said to my husband: what do we do? So we decorated not that much but for here it was a lot. The following year, I enlarged. I did it so that my mother would keep her memory alive. And now it means a lot more to me because two years ago I lost my husband. “
Today she is the area’s ‘Christmas Queen’ and her realm of holiday cheer in Kings County is Dyker Heights. The neighborhood Christmas decorations have become a major tourist attraction. You can find ornate houses on 83rd and 86th streets, between 11th and 13th avenues.
Her husband had promised her that she would continue their tradition after her death, and she kept his word.
âIt’s a beautiful tradition. And that’s what keeps him alive,â she said.
Con Edison might be the biggest fan of these displays, given the high cost of electricity, but that’s not the point. This is the joy of the holidays, which is priceless.
Explains Spata: âEveryone is thinking, ‘oh my God, the electric bill.’ It’s really a matter of six hours on a timer and the LEDs and whatever the cost, it’s only for 30 days. And then most of it goes to my storage. And my basement, my garage behind the tree in my backyard. In my closet. They are everywhere.
Even though the neighborhood brightens up every December, Spata has considered downsizing at her home on 84th Street, but then she thinks of the kids.
“You can’t, because it’s their house. If you take your kid to Rockefeller Center, they sell toys, they have the chestnuts, a lot of people can’t afford that.”
At Dyker Heights, the kids âhave fun and it doesn’t cost a thing. We do not take donations. We don’t take anything. I give it from the bottom of my heart â.