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Masters of light: Holiday neighborhood displays

The Testa family at 44 Ohio Ave. in

The Testa family at 44 Ohio Ave. in Massapequa likes old-fashioned figures in their light display. Some have been in their family for 50 years. (Dec. 13, 2013) Credit: Uli Seit

Ah, children. Sometimes they do as they're told and follow their parents' instructions. Other times they keep secrets, and mom and dad don't know what they're up to.

In the real world this is good and bad. In the world of holiday lights, it's all good and everyone's happy in the end.

Chris Testa decided to submit his parents Mark and Monica's display in Massapequa, unbeknownst to his mother. She had asked him to submit their display for consideration, but he purposely didn't get back to her on it, so she thought he hadn't and that was the end of it. She and Santa will determine whether that was naughty or nice.

The Testas began decorating the house about 20 years ago with a small display. They make new additions to it every year.

"We are always looking for that special something to add," Chris, 27, said. "They really take pride in their display!"

In Merrick, the Heides' display has grown along with their family. Karen and Lenny bought their home in 1981 and planted a sapling. As Christmas neared, the couple made wooden cutouts of Peanuts characters and placed Charlie Brown and the gang around the little tree. In 1984, the couple had a child, Philip. To symbolize their new family, Lenny built Smurfette, Papa Smurf and Baby Smurf for the display.

"When people see our display, they get excited for the holidays," said Philip, 29, who also submitted his family's lights for consideration. "When people ask, 'Gee, who lives here?' almost every child's answer is the same. They say, 'Santa lives here!' "

The Testas, Heides and other families featured in the annual Holiday Lights editions have a few things in common: elaborate displays of dozens of figurines and thousands of lights, traditions passed down from one generation to another, and a love of the Christmas season that manifests itself in the glow of their displays and the smiles of those who come to see them.

Today continues last Sunday's coverage of the best of the holiday lights submitted to Newsday.

We hope you will visit and enjoy the displays across Long Island listed in the section. To the masters of light, thank you for brightening up the neighborhood and the holiday season.

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