Howard Beach family’s bright idea wins accolade

By Howard Koplowitz

The single-family, European-cultured stone home on 164th Avenue beat out a blue-lighted house on 158th Avenue in the finals of an online poll on the Web site Crossbayblvdonline.com. More than 2,000 visitors to the site voted in the finals.Lynda Annunziata said during an interview Sunday that she was unaware of the honor because she does not know how to use a computer until someone at a local store alerted her.”We don't use the computer so someone told me,” she said.Annunziata said her husband Ronnie was responsible for hiring a crew to put up the lights, which included more than 40 18-foot strands of draped colored and white lights at the entrance of the home. “It's so bright at night that you can see it from a couple of block away,” she said. “People get enjoyment out of it.”Lights were also placed by a fountain on the property and bright, large colored ornaments were hung on trees.”This is totally Ronnie's idea,” Annunziata said, noting that the family has been putting up the lights for four years. “If there's one bulb [out], we've got to get the ladder and change it.”She said she was unsure how much the display cost to put up or the amount of her electric bill. Annunziato's husband was not home at the time of the interview.Annunziata said the lights will stay up until at least Jan. 6.”Every year we just buy a few more things. We try to keep it tasteful,” she said. “I think it looks kind of graceful.”Eight homes participated in the competition, according to Pat Franzese, the creator of Crossbayblvdonline.com. Six houses were submitted by the site's visitors while Franzese picked two others for the contest, he said.”I know everybody [in Howard Beach] goes crazy with the decorations,” Franzese said of his idea to hold a Christmas light competition on the Web site, which was created shortly before Halloween.There were two rounds of voting before the final two houses squared off in the finals. Voting lasted for about 2 1/2 weeks.The 164th Avenue home received 1,296 votes, while the 158th Avenue house got 733 votes.”It was very well-received within the community,” Franzese said. “I was surprised with the amount of votes we had.”He said next year's contest may involve local merchants putting up prize money for the winner.”It's bragging rights right now,” Franzese said, “but next year it will be really big.”Franzese said he created the Web site because he “didn't just want to start a regular blog.””The idea is to promote the local businesses and a community-type thing,” he said.Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

More from Around New York