The three and a half hour tour, which starts in Manhattan, highlights the festive homes of Dyker Heights, the Italian-American section of Brooklyn which has been voted one of the top 10 destinations in the Unites States for holiday lights.
Every year over 100,000 people flock to the area from around the world to see millions of dazzling lights, thirty foot tall wooden soldiers, animatronic figures, glowing nativity scenes and more and the "Christmas Lights & Cannoli Tour" is the only guided bus tour of the area.
Started in 2006 by native Brooklynite Tony Muia, the tour was a labor of love. "We grew up with the homeowners so we know them personally. We know the stories behind why they decorate their homes, what it takes to pull it off, how much their electricity bills are, etc. Each year they fill us in first as to what new decorations they've purchased, and let me tell you something. From what I already know? This year is going to bigger and better than ever!"
It’s not just the lights that are bigger and better this year. The tour includes a stop for cannoli and hot chocolate after the lights, and this year Muia’s working with one of Brooklyn’s best Italian pastry shops, Villabate-Alba, to supply the cannoli. “I’ve always wanted to work with Villabate-Alba and have them supply the cannoli on this tour and this year my dream finally came true” says Muia. “The Alaimo family, the owners of Viallabate Alba, have been serving the Italian-American community of Brooklyn for over thirty years and three generations and they’re as much a part of the tradition as the lights are.”
On the ride back to Manhattan, nostalgic Christmas television specials are shown on the TV screens of the bus like Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Sonny & Cher and more. The Christmas music on the bus goes back to a bygone era as well like the 1940s, 50s and so on. And making their first appearance this year will be carolers placed at stops along the tour.
Tony and the tour have been featured on The Nate Berkus Show, ABC's The Chew, Good Morning America and Samantha Brown's "Holidays in New York" special.
Muia is overjoyed at all the press coverage the tour has received. "As Brooklynites, we never went to Rockefeller Center to see the tree. We'd drive around Dyker Heights, to see the most amazing displays in the world. We always knew they were special and now, through our tour, the rest of the world knows how special they are as well."
Adds Muia, "The best part has been showing people who love Christmas decorations, and who have never been to Brooklyn before, how festive things can get in Brooklyn. Folks of all ages love the tour, from kids to kids at heart. The tour was even voted 'Best Holiday Date' by Time Out New York."
"I love seeing the looks on people's faces when they see they lights," says Muia,"It's like watching them become a child again. Listen, if this tour doesn't get you into the spirit then your name's Ebenezer and I can't help you."
This year the "Christmas Lights & Cannoli Tour" will operate every night of the week during the entire month of December from Saturday, December 1, 2012, to Friday, December 31, 2012.
"A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours" is the only Brooklyn-based, guided bus tour company in the NYC area that strictly uses Brooklyn-born tour guides. All tours start and end in Manhattan.