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Howard Beach house adorned with 9,600 Xmas lights

When David Reisman does Christmas lighting, he doesn’t skimp.

The Howard Beach resident has outfitted his home with nearly 10,000 Christmas lights for the holiday season without the help of hired workers.

“For 15 years I’ve been doing setups. Every year we try to do it bigger and better. It’s a family project,” said Reisman, who has lived in his Howard Beach home on 87th Street and 158th Avenue for 17 years.

The home and lawn are illuminated by 9,600 Christmas lights connected through 40 extension cords, including 2,000 pure LED lights from California. The lights also come with a hefty electric bill, but Reisman declined to disclose the exact amount..

“It’s up there. It’s expensive, but we’re able to afford it,” said Reisman, who works for a law firm in Manhattan.

Reisman said the display “starts with an idea and a sketch.”

“I build it myself,” he said. “We all pitch in as a family,” referring to his wife, Angela, and sons Michael, 17, and Alex, 12.

Part of the display includes two 18-foot-high candy canes made out of wood and 50 sets of net lights.

“It’s a lot of work,” Reisman said, noting it took in excess of 30 hours of labor from start to finish.

“It became a holiday tradition,” he said. “Some people do it, but not on the level I do it. I’m very eccentric in everything I do.”

Reisman estimated the display costs “thousands of dollars,” although he saves money by doing the labor himself. He said he puts up the display “for the community,” and said his home is frequently photographed by passers-by.

“A lot of times, you’re inside the house and you see the flash bulbs,” he said.

Reisman said some of his neighbors try to one-up each other with Christmas decorations, but he does it for his family and the community.

“I do it because I enjoy doing it, but there are people who are competitive,” he said.

Reisman said working on the display with his family makes Christmas more enjoyable.

“A lot of [people] hire someone and it kind of takes the joy out of Christmas,” he said. “When you do it yourself, it has a lot more meaning then hiring someone.”

Reisman starts putting up the display with the help of his family two weeks before Thanksgiving.

“He definitely has a creative touch,” said his wife, Angela. “We’re basically his helpers.”

“It’s amazing,” said his son, Michael.

His younger brother, Alex, helped with the electrical aspects of the winter wonderland.

“I just like setting up the whole display,” he said.

For Christmas 2000, Reisman put 6-foot-high numbers making out “2000” and “Y2K” for the computer virus using high-gloss paint.

Reisman said he had requests from neighbors to pay him to set up their displays, but declined.

“I only do this for myself,” he said.

Even though Christmas has yet to arrive, Reisman already has thoughts of what next year’s display will look like.

“I have ideas already for next Christmas,” he said.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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