Return of Dyker Heights Christmas lights sparks controversy amid COVID-19
The Dyker Heights Christmas lights display attraction will take a hit due to the COVID pandemic, but area residents are expecting it to still take place on a smaller scale.
Despite the attraction’s popularity, neighbors are concerned about large crowds congregating to look at the lights during the holiday season.
Community Board 10, which covers Dyker Heights, has heard a mixed response from residents. Many plan to scale back displays, while others plan to go all out.
“Due to COVID-19, many are very concerned about crowds and increased car travel to the area,” said CB 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann. “City agencies are preparing to ensure that we have the resources to address issues that may arise, including traffic control. DSNY has already placed 20 additional corner baskets at various locations and we will be monitoring the viewing area regularly to determine any additional needs.”
Last week, members of CB 10 attended an interagency meeting to discuss the lights.
“We expect a significant decline in tour bus traffic as there are only two companies who are now advertising and plan to operate at a markedly lower capacity with COVID-19 restrictions,” Beckmann added. “NYPD set up an area for charter/tour buses to drop off on 86th Street. This was instituted a few years ago. The plan is for buses to be directed to 86th Street to park and discharge passengers.”
Councilmember Justin Brannan and others are currently working with City Hall and the Governor’s Office because they want to prevent the tour buses from coming.
“With increased safety concerns due to COVID, I think we would all like to see Dyker lights be for ‘locals only’ this year, but that’s easier said than done,” Brannan said. “Most of the companies that normally operate the Dyker tours are not doing them this year, but we are working closely with our local partners in the NYPD to make sure we are prepared just in case.”
One of the companies, A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours, has canceled its tours.
Brannan said there is no way to stop the Dyker lights unless residents decide to not decorate their homes.
“This is a completely residential area and my main priority is to look after the folks who live in Dyker Heights the other 11 months each year, not the tourists,” he said.
Beckmann said that she noticed fewer displays after walking around the area.
“This may change in upcoming weeks, so will continue to monitor,” she said.
This story has been updated. A Slice of Brooklyn Tour Bus will not be hosting any Christmas lights tours in Dyker Heights.
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