By Larry Perl, email@example.com
2:07 PM EST, December 18, 2012
In the daylight, The Dizz looks plenty festive for the holiday season.
A big, inflatable Santa sits outside the front entrance of the restaurant and bar. A Santa costume hangs on an exterior wall. Another inflatable Santa sits in a tub with a reindeer and a rubber ducky, scrubbing himself. Charlie Brown characters cavort through a flower bed. Flamingos wearing Santa hats and scarves line the grassy strip by the sidewalk. More Santas peek from upstairs windows and a wreath hangs high on the building.
But when the sun goes down, The Dizz lights up like a Christmas tree. In fact, a 10-foot Christmas tree on a four-foot wooden platform outside has 750 lights alone, plus a lighted pig sitting near the base of the tree and a Rudolph reindeer whose red nose lights up.
In all, about 4,000 lights illuminate the building at 300 West 29th St., in Remington, rivaling the row houses of the nearby Miracle on 34th Street in the 700 block of Chestnut Avenue in Hampden.
It's a mesmerizing sight for passers-by and people stopping in for dinner or a drink, and although it adds more than $20 a month to the electric bill and took four people three days to set up, proprietor Elaine Stevens said it's been well worth the cost and effort.
"It doesn't matter," she said. "It looks so good at nighttime. We love it. I'm the queen of lights."
Stevens has been decorating the Dizz for the past three holiday seasons. The first year, she held a little lighting ceremony that drew about 1,000 people, and sold tree ornaments for $5 each to raise money for The Community School. She doesn't do that anymore, because she's too busy running the restaurant.
"Time gets away from you," she said.
She does still find time to decorate the building, with the help of her brother, Tom Basta, a general contractor.
"He had four people working two days to put lights on the building, and the third day, they built the platform for the tree," she said.
Stevens said the visuals are good for business.
"I've had people stop in for dinner just because they saw the lights," she said.
Her son, Kyle, said, "I've been noticing a lot of people bringing their kids at night."
"I love coming here during Christmas because of how they decorate," said Renee Miranda, 31, of Mount Vernon, walking into The Dizz with Christopher Wenzl, 34.
Elaine Stevens said the lights are becoming such a tradition that she no longer turns them off when the restaurant closes for the night.
"We used to turn them off, but now I leave them on all night," she said. "People love looking at it."