One night’s break from our current reality: Dyker Heights

Ah, Dyker Heights! What is it? Where is it? Why is it?

So why did Dyker Heights, a part of Brooklyn I’d only vaguely heard of, come to my attention and inspire me to bring it to your attention?

Because…Ellen Kaye.

Last night Ellen, dressed in a puffy white jacket, ran up and down the Dyker Heights streets where the houses are famously decorated in rococo Xmas lights and things (one house was covered in massive blow-up animated hero dolls; another house actually had Spider Man crawling up the balcony: why??? A number of creches, minus Baby Jesuses. One of the more Catholic members of our group said it was because Jesus wasn’t born until December 25, so the baby dolls can’t appear until then. The rigors of religion!)

Ellen turns into a kid in Dyker Heights, literally jumping up and down. And she’s been doing it for years. It’s her holiday ritual. (She’s one half shtetl Jewish, one half Southern gothic.)

And a bunch of us friends and relations joined her.

One of those relations, my brother Ethan, at my behest took a couple of pictures of the worst–sorry, I mean the best and most sumptuously decorated houses. I’ve put them in below.

A holiday puzzle: See if you can figure out how the people who live in these houses get in and out of them through all the decorations. I don’t know that they do. I imagine they decorate starting at the curb and work their way backward to the front door, placing a bigger than life object (gigantic toy soldier/nutcracker or Santa) on the porch, thus blocking the front door, going inside, turning all the many, many, many lights on…and do not leave again until they reverse the process to take down the decorations.

And pay the massive electric bill.

Oh, and since these are not videos, you won’t know unless I tell you (I’m telling you) that a certain number of these characters are animated. Yes, they move.

I was looking up at the sky last night and watching some planes taking off from JFK and thinking, gee, they’re flying sort of low, and wondering if, during Christmas season, planes are re-routed directly over Dyker Heights so that the pilot can come over the intercom and tell the passengers to look down. I could almost hear planesful of “Oooooh.”

I’ll bet it’s almost as impressive from the sky as is flying over and looking down at the Grand Canyon. Almost.

The whole thing is insane. Witness, these two houses across the street from each other. (If you put on sunglasses and peer at the second photo, you can see Ellen, standing in the street in her white parka, gazing up at the house.)


There are around eight or so blocks in Dyker Heights with these decorated houses. It’s definitely worth a visit. Or a flyover.

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