Holiday lights power up in wake of Sandy

"Snoopy's Christmas Wonderland" at the Hicksville home of "Snoopy's Christmas Wonderland" at the Hicksville home of reader Warren Gluck. Photo Credit: Maria Boyadjieva

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Superstorm Sandy, whose destruction snuffed out Halloween celebrations for many on Long Island, will not be the Grinch who stole Christmas.

The storm, the worst on Long Island in decades, hit seven weeks ago tomorrow and still commands a strong presence. But Long Islanders' Christmas spirit is stronger, and is shining brightly in the holiday light displays they've erected to celebrate the season.

Newsday began soliciting nominations for the annual "Holiday Lights" edition the week before Sandy arrived Oct. 29. In the weeks after, as many Long Islanders waded through the destruction and waited for their power to return, no lights at home meant no lights for holiday displays, and no Internet access meant no online submissions.

But in her wake, Sandy left determination and inspiration.

Scott Friebel nominated the holiday light display of his cousin, Christine Frisch, and her husband, Howie, who live in Baldwin.

"For years they have been decorating their house at Christmastime," he wrote in his nomination. "A few years ago their golden retriever Clyde was diagnosed with cancer and he died from it. Since then they have been raising money for the Animal Cancer Foundation at this time of year . . . Due to Hurricane Sandy's disaster, this year we will be raising money for Hurricane Sandy Long Island Disaster Relief."

Matthew Wolfe, an electrical engineering student at the NYIT school of engineering and computing in Old Westbury, was stalled, but not deterred, by Sandy. He said his display has gotten bigger as the years have gone by and now includes about 60 toy soldiers and a 30-foot "mega tree."

"I have spent countless hours making my display come to life with planning and vigorous programming," he wrote. "Sandy set me back somewhat, but I am putting the final touches on my display . . . "

Across Long Island, others did the same. In fact, Newsday got so many submissions worthy of publication that for the first time, the best displays will be divided intotwo Holiday Lights editions -- today and next Sunday, Dec. 23.

We hope you will visit and enjoy the featured displays and others across Long Island listed in the section. To those who decorated their homes, Newsday salutes you for giving Long Islanders a needed dose of brightness and cheer this holiday season.

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