A adventurous friend and I, along with our assorted children, decided to hop in her mini-van the other night to explore Dyker Heights, the Brooklyn neighborhood so beloved by local news stations this time of year.
As you may or may not know, Dyker Heights has been bit by the holiday cheer bug for many years now. Locals decorate their domiciles to such an extent that Con Ed sets upon gnawing its fingernails and Disney execs send down their interns to take notes. As Christmas approaches, the streets in the 80s between 12th and 13th avenues become clogged with gawkers.
We were among those rubberneckers until the kids insisted we park the van, get out and take a closer look. And so we did, and what we saw! One lawn adorned with king-sized inflated likenesses of Mickey Mouse, Tweety Bird, Scooby-Doo and SpongeBob, who, for some reason, have something to do with Christmas. A snowman made entirely of lights and as big as a house. Skating tots who endlessly spin on their platforms. And, as part of an elaborate decorating scheme entitled toyland, a Santa figure so big as to rank as a South Seas godhead. Scary, he was. The wife suggested we offer a sacrifice. The automated reindeer on the balcony, rearing up violently, appeared to agree.
Other houses offered live, full-blooded Santa stand-ins, who handed out toys and treats. One such was seated, eerily, next to a life-size Santa doll of similar appearance. It was hard to tell the two apart. While wifey and I were doping the thing out, a tall, red, furry figure lumbered down the driveway with two plastic buckets. Egad! It was Elmo! And he was headed our way!
Luckily, Elmo passed us by. His footing was uncertain and his intentions were unclear. He may have been collecting funds for charity, or to pay the electric bill. Either way, Elmo's World was never this bizarre.
Also collecting funds was a man in a very sad-looking snowman costume. He was standing with his plastic bucket not on the sidewalk but in the middle of the street, which made him seem vaguely homeless. In this same area was a suspicious figure trading Santa hats and light sabers from the back of his open van. WTF?
On one corner, a vast display was still under construction. Two men were busy hanging lights on trees. Judging by the nearby van, they were from DiMeglio Decorations, an operation whose logo features a particularly evil looking elf. Several of the layouts, in fact, appeared to be the work of professionals, not the people who lived in the house in question. Some lawns bore signs advertising the company at work. B & R Christmas Decorators was one I saw more than once.
Some houses had no decorations whatsoever. What Grinches these people much feel in such environs.