Seddio builds Brooklyn’s “Santa Central”

December 5, 2011 Helen Klein
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On December 4, at 5 p.m., the lights will go on at Brooklyn’squintessential holiday house, with a grand display including morethan 50,000 lights and 100-plus animated figures, that its ownersays can be seen by passengers on planes flying overhead to land atKennedy Airport.

The borough’s version of Santa Central, at Flatlands Avenue andEast 92nd Street in Canarsie, has been nurtured to its currentglory by Frank Seddio, a former assemblymember and former judge, alongtime community and political activist and, at least aroundChristmas, something of a right jolly old elf, himself.

Seddio — who has been mounting the display for 24 years, havingtaken over the 46-year-young tradition from its originator, FrankGuarino — spends the weeks leading up to the holiday season in afrenzy of activity, helped by family members and friends, as hebrings together characters out of fantasy and fable in a holidaywonderland that has the young, and young-at-heart, wide-eyed withamazement, even when they think they’ve seen it all.

It’s always been a family project, Seddio noted. When kids inthe family become six, we start them by letting them screw in thelight bulbs. That is just the beginning, with many of today’svolunteer crew having logged 20 or more years on the effort, whichtakes about six weekends, working full days both Saturday andSunday, to complete.

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Old favorites – Stumpy the talking Christmas tree, the Van Deerfamily, and Mickey and Minnie Mouse, among them – are among thestars of the show, which also includes a hot air balloon that goesup and down, a carousel populated by toy soldiers astride reindeerand a Ferris wheel ridden by Sesame Street characters.

But, so too are the new arrivals – this year, an animatronicparrot whose technology is so sophisticated that he can not onlysing Christmas carols and tell jokes, but actually chat with thosewho stop by to gape wide-eyed at the displays, and a group ofSmurfs skating on the lawn.

And, it’s not just Christmas. There is a Hanukkah scene in thedisplay, as well as a Kwanzaa display, plus the Winter Wizardreciting A Visit from St. Nicholas for enthralled youngsters.

The lights stay on till after New Year’s. But, the night thehouse is lit, there is a grand party for anyone who cares to stopby, as well, with music performed by the chorus of P.S. 115, thechoir from Mary Queen of Heaven Church and Pan Fusion Steel Band.And, of course, Santa is on hand to greet the children.

It’s also an opportunity to pay tribute to someone who gave ofhimself for the betterment of the community. This year, the honoreeis the late John Salogub, who served as president of the 69thPrecinct Community Council and the president of the 69th PrecinctYouth, and as a member of Community Board 18.


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