Christmas Doll House Still Dark but Hopes to Return Next Year

The deck outside the Garabedian home on Pelham Parkway is being torn-up and redone in preparation for a big return next year in this photo fPhoto byDavid Greene

By David Greene

Bronx Voice

January 3, 2023

BRONX - For more than four decades residents from across the city have trekked to the Garabedian "Holiday House" located at the corner of Pelham Parkway North and Westervelt Avenue in Pelham Gardens to see the annual holiday lights, decorations and the nearly 200 characters of world history, fairy tales, and pop culture—celebrated in the form of mannequins wearing handmade created outfits. Visitors this year were once again disappointed that the lights outside the home were dark for at least the third year in a row and most of the mannequins are now gone.

Early Christmas morning, Sunday, December 25, "Saulovino" a resident of Massachusetts was observed taking photos of the house, disappointed at having traveled all the way to the Bronx to visit the home and finding the lights dark. Saulovino explained, "I saw this on the Internet, the home of the lights." When told that the family has put the annual tradition on hold, Saulovino asked, "Oh, no more lights?"

Saulovino continued, "I live in Massachusetts, but I am doing different things to learn about New York. I found different Christmas houses on the Internet in New York," and was in the process of visiting several on his list that would next include a visit to somewhat similar homes in Manhattan and Brooklyn before returning home. He said of the darkened Garabedian home, "It's beautiful anyway."

In December 2017 as the holiday lights were delayed, Gary Garabedian had recalled a serious motor vehicle accident in 2016, and at the time declined to give further information. On "Boxing Day" December 26, speaking by phone Gary told the Bronx Voice, "We did have a car accident in 2016, sorry, and we've had multiple operations, so we've been held up." Gary then vowed, "We're going to do it again, God willing, and we haven't stopped. Everybody's writing, "We're dead, we're gone"-- we're not."

When asked about the missing icons from the outside of the home and the ripped-up floorboards in the front of the home, Gary explained, "We're redoing the outside, we're getting it ready, which if you looked outside, you saw the contractor outside working... he was ripping up the boards and (he's) going to redo it." Gary then revealed that the family hopes to be back next year with "A lot more new stuff is going to come back, different.”

With more surgeries to undergo before the bodies of he and his sister Linda are repaired, Gary continued, "We're hoping we can be 100%, because it's not only just setting up every night, these mannequins go in and out as you know, we never left the mannequins out, we take them in and out every night."

As reported in previous articles Gary and Linda have run a successful custom-made bridal gown business out of their home, once tailored for the rich and famous and heads of large corporations, the brother and sister team have since opened to the general public. The excess materials from their gowns are then saved and later used to create the costumes of the life-size figures.

Gary said of the new design, "When we fix the outside, it's going to blow their minds." He added, "You know how many times ABC called me? ... I didn't really do this to be in a contest... I did this for the people who sometimes don't have enough money to go to the city, to go see stuff, to see lights, so they bring their kids here and they could enjoy it and forget the everyday, ugly problems in the world there's so many problems in the world today. I just wanted them to forget, but then we got hurt very badly. He hit me from the top of the highway and threw us over the balcony, so we're lucky to be alive.”

As Linda and Gary had been recovering, they have been busy preparing the new mannequins and creating new costumes, Linda then teased, "There is a big surprise coming out that they won't see until the last minute, but it is a very, very big surprise that they would never in their minds think of that's going to come out," as Gary added, "We've been working a long time on it."

Asked if he could reveal the surprise, he declined, replying, "No, that's the surprise. No, if I tell you... then it leaks out to everybody." Taking a guess with the late Queen Elizabeth only drew a "No," followed by laughter from both creators. Gary would only say that “everyone knows who it is.”

Linda added, "I think this is going to be something spectacular for them to see and I've been waiting a long time for them to see this surprise, but I got hurt and sick and I was working." Gary added, "They just have to sit back and wait like we are."

After a final attempt at the name of the new statue, Gary replied, "If I show it to you, you're the press, you'll go tell everyone,” Before vowing, "We'll be the first to call you up."

As the home has remained dark through their recovery and then the COVID-19 pandemic, Gary then recalled how they first decorated the interior of their home with mannequins in 1973 and moved their designs to the front, back and sides of the home in 1975, even Santa Claus and his reindeer were affixed to the roof.

Gary concluded, "In 2025 it's going to be 50-years, so we've got to get going, because it's going to come soon. What's going to be coming is what they don't expect, they're going to be shocked. You'll be very, very impressed, I'm sure of it."

One male resident of the block confessed last Christmas that some residents were against the yearly tradition or rather the heavy traffic the holiday decorations bring. The resident added, "No, I don't mind. I love to have some Christmas spirit, you know... I support it."

Another longtime resident was more disappointed by the additions of Brittney Spears, Michael Jackson and Superman who later joined baby Jesus and Santa Claus. The resident explained, "I guess as a kid it was fun, it was more Christmas-themed, but then over the years it just got to be ugly, and they never took it down during the summertime and it was just like an eyesore after a while."

Only time will tell what the nearby residents and fans of the home will think of the redesign, stay tuned.

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