Visit Italy during the Christmas season, and you’ll find a crèche with figures of the Holy Family on every other corner and within every church; the Virgin Mary looking lovingly down at the baby Jesus.
In the outer borough of the Bronx in New York City, things are done a bit differently. Here in the yard of a residential home is another display of the birth of Christ, but along with the usual audience of Wise Men and angels are movie stars, princesses and models.
A local family who reside in the house creates each of the almost 200 life-sized mannequins that stand in their yard by hand. We arrived just in time to watch the family remove the plastic slipcovers over each mannequin, carefully brush out and style each doll’s hair, and power up the display to make the mannequins dance on rotating platforms – slightly tacky, but incredibly charming.
No diva is left behind – from Marilyn Monroe to Cher, every glamour girl is represented. But above all of the madness sits the Holy Family, perhaps to remind everyone what this is all about – we were told that the family does this out of gratitude for a miracle they were given many years ago, and they’ve continued the tradition for decades.
The project brings much joy to the community, who stand outside the chain-link fence and gaze in wonder at the outrageous scene. Money thrown through the fence is donated to a local church (after the electric bill is paid!).
This post has been entered into the Grantourismo HomeAway Holiday-Rentals travel blogging competition.