Despite the downturn in the economy, the Pelham Parkway home which has become famous for its extravagant Christmas display is still attracting thousands of visitors and outdoing itself each year.
Often referred to as “The Christmas House,” the two-story home, owned by the Garabedian family, has been the site of massive displays every Christmas for over 30 years. And in spite of rising electricity rates, the scale of the spectacular light show has been growing each year, residents say.
“We just come here to see what they have, because every year it expands,” said Pelham Bay resident Miguel Gonzales, who came to see the lights with his son and girlfriend. “First it was only at the front and side, now they have it around here [the back of the house], too.”
The detailed show features life-sized mannequins in ballroom attire that move or dance to music that can be heard from a block away. Santa Claus and his reindeer sit atop one side of the roof and the six Rockettes stand on another. Angels and other biblical figures are also interspersed between fairy tale characters, like Cinderella in a carriage with footmen.
“The whole scenario is really wonderful,” said Brunilda Rodriguez, who lives 10 minutes away from the Garabedian’s house and was visiting for her third consecutive year. “It’s really amazing, I don’t know how they do it (referring to the electricity bills).”
Visitors who are impressed with the Garabedian’s work often throw money through the chain link fence that borders off the display, but a sign at the front of the house said that the donations would go to Immaculate Conception Church.
“I think they used to have a sign up that said that part of the donations would go to the Con Ed bill, but now everything goes to the church,” said Erika Burgos, who accompanied Gonzales.
The Garabedians make everything themselves. Gary Garabedian allegedly creates all the designs, and dresses the dolls, and his sisters Linda and Elise help to dismantle and reassemble parts of the display each evening, according
Five years ago, the New York Post reported that 50,000 miniature light bulbs and 40 500-watt halogen lamps lit up the yard, emitting enough electricity to power 25 hair dryers.
None of the neighbors who braved the 30-degree wind on Sunday night could say where the money was coming from, a question which is just another subject on which the Garabedians are remaining tight-lipped.
The reason behind this long-standing family tradition is a secret no one outside the family has been able to uncover to this day.
Mr. Garabedian told the New York Times that the Christmas show was the family’s way of showing thanks for a miracle they received in 1973. “The family wants to keep it special for ourselves.”