My latest foray into Brooklyn was to tour the over-the-top Christmas decorations of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, Brooklyn with my favorite Brooklyn guide Tony Muia. Tony likes to brag about Brooklyn's size and clout: its population is bigger than Boston's and Philadelphia's combined, and it claims everone from W.H. Auden to Shelley Winters as native sons and daughters.
We even passed the high school of Scott Baio! Another thing is that no one does Christmas lights like the residents Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights. 84th Street is ground zero for the lights extravaganza in the latter neighborhood, a warren of large mansions owned by guys who allegedly made their fortunes in cigars or selling Porsches. Residents hire professionals to deck their houses out with inflatable Santas, giant nutcrackers, nativity scenes and choirs of angels. The bigger the displays the better, and gaudy is good. Con Ed bills can run up for $10,000 a month, and one guy even set up his own radio station so passersby can tune into his Christmas music and watch a computer coordinated lights display on two adjacent homes.
This week we're in Los Angeles, where we've viewed Christmas lights in Santa Monica, Hancock Park and Monterey Park. The residents of St. Alban's Road in San Marino drape their monumental evergreens with colored bulbs every year, but it's more stately than in-your face.For sheer zaniness nothing compares to Italian- and Irish-American Brookyn. And the end of the tour canoli stop at Mona Lisa Pastry Shoppe and Cafe? Priceless.
Have a Merry Christmas!