Some homes on the tour still feature the inflatable Santas that have been around for years, while others display characters like Snoopy that were more popular a generation ago. But many residents on blocks where homes can go for $1 million or more hire professional decorators to use the latest in LED technology. On one front lawn, golden lights outlined every inch of manicured topiary, while outside another home, a stately tree was bejeweled in bright red lights from the highest branches to the roots. Professional displays can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $10,000 or more, depending on how elaborate they are.
At one home, a blinking light display was synchronized to the beat of "Jingle Bells" broadcast on a local radio frequency. And at the mansion owned by a man Muia called "Sam the Greek," holiday greetings were illuminated in three languages — English, Italian and Greek, Cyrillic letters and all.
How do homeowners feel about Muia as he tosses out comments like "You can probably see that house from space!" and "That house looks like a dessert!"? Judging from the affectionate hug Muia got from Lucy Spata as he passed her decked-out house, they like the attention.
At Muia's prompting, Spata retells the story of how her neighbors used to complain about the traffic the lights attract. Her response: "I told them to move."
Muia also tells inside stories as he walks along: This mansion was built by a car dealer for his daughter; that homeowner died of cancer and his wife does the lights up in his honor; and this one's married to a Jewish woman, so all the lights are blue instead of more traditional Christmas colors like red, green or gold.
Dale Pollard and his wife of Ogden, Utah, were the only ones on the tour who said their hometown has lights to rival Brooklyn. But one thing they don't have back in Utah, Pollard said, is "a house with blue lights that's Jewish."
More typical was the reaction of Nadia Boyer of Burke, Va.: "My house is going to look really lame when I get back home."
If You Go:
CHRISTMAS LIGHTS & CANNOLI TOUR: http://www.asliceofbrooklyn.com/christmas.html . Tours last 3½ hours, departing nightly from Manhattan through Dec. 31. Tickets, $55. Advance booking required; tours often sell out.