You’ve passed by it, were delighted by it, and maybe even took a picture of it: the bobblehead display at 53 Franklin Street is an iconic part of Greenpoint decor, and the people who keep the festive dolls bopping are just as enchanting.

Here, Tony, a third-generation Greenpoint resident, and his daughter, Jacqueline, who also lives at 53 Franklin Street, share the history of their beloved display. The toys are solar-powered, bobbing with the sun, even in the colder months thanks to the building’s large window that soaks in rays.

Below, get to know Tony and Jacqueline, whose Santa- and snowman-filled display has been mesmerizing passersby and neighbors for years!

The exterior of the 53 Franklin display; photo provided by Jacqueline

Greenpointers: Tell us a little about the first floor at 53 Franklin Street — who lives there and for how long have you been there?

 Jacqueline: I live at 53 Franklin Street with my husband, Joe, as well as my father Tony.  My father and I are lifelong Greenpointers. He grew up on Norman Avenue, back then the building was known as “The Inkies”.  He’s been on Franklin Street since the 1970s.


Joe and I live on the first floor and we love to collect vintage decorations.  We decorate the window on the left side of the building for most holidays. Halloween and Christmas are our favorites; Joe especially loves Christmas decorations. Every year he decorates his parents’ house on Long Island as well.
The holiday decorations on the outside of the building are a team effort between us all.

The great solar dancing bobblehead collection in the window on the right belongs to my dad, Tony. He has another display in the window of Modern Haircuts at 692 Manhattan Avenue. Years ago he started a small display in the window of Kasia’s restaurant, a staple in Williamsburg, before its closing.

When did the bobblehead collection begin, and how?

Tony: The collection in the window began about 10 years ago. I was simply amazed how this works. God loves us so much, he gave us the Sun. It’s that love that makes those solar toys work. It’s also that love that comes out to the people who told me it makes them feel so good to look at the window.  The majority of people would always use the word happy. So we titled it Happy 53.

Neighbors really get a kick out of the display. Do you have any stories from people who have admired it over the years?

Jacqueline: It’s always really touching to hear from people who admire the window, and we hear it often. Over the years it’s served as a way of getting to know our neighbors. People will stop us while we’re coming and going to ask about the window, to tell us it brings a smile to their face. Our favorite, I think, is seeing just how many people mimic the dance of the toys! It’s great to see.  A lot of parents bring their children who usually look mesmerized. One day when I was gardening out front I noticed a woman standing around. She told me the window was her meeting spot for her and her mother every week. We’ve received little notes and at times even little gifts left on the window sill over the years. 

Tony: A lot of people I spoke to said they are coming all the way from the other end of the neighborhood just to see the window’s dancing toys. I would buy those solar toys by the case from Dollar Tree. I would give them to the parents of the children that came to see the window and spread joy. Dollar Tree has since stopped carrying the solar toys.  

Tony outside of Kasia’s display when the restaurant was open in Williamsburg, photo provided by Jacqueline

The display is particularly lovely at Christmas. What does that tradition mean to you?

Jacqueline: I think when you share what makes you happy, you get it back tenfold. It’s been a gift to see the smiling faces of people when I look out my window, and to hear people tell my dad that his collection makes their day a little brighter, all because he shared something that makes him happy. During the holidays we hope our decorations bring a little joy to others. That’s really what it’s about.

Tony: As Christian people, it’s the gift of giving happiness and love. There are people out there just like you who are celebrating the birth of Christ, love, and happiness with each other. Goodwill on earth. Merry Christmas.

Visitors pose with Tony outside his display, photo provided by Jacqueline

What is something you cherish about Greenpoint?

Jacqueline: As someone who can say their great-grandparents were Greenpointers, I’d have to say it’s the memories. Greenpoint has such a rich and unique history, and I feel a deep connection to that history. The families and people I’ve known, they make up the fabric of Greenpoint. So much has changed over the years…yet a lot remains the same. Photographing Greenpoint has been a passion of mine for many years.

Tony:  I’m a third-generation Greenpointer on both parents’ sides. Memories are cherished of what was.  Seeing a rebirth of the parks, young people bring those memories back to me. Not in so much of what they are saying but what they are doing. My mom would pack us a lunch in the wicker suitcase, a bedspread to put on the grass, Kool-Aid to drink with our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Henry, my older brother, and I would run around the park and have a good time.  I see this as I go to the park almost everyday. I see young families in the summer time doing this. Sweet cherished memories. It’s here, and so am I. It also continues, my youngest daughter lives here also. I have my brother Moe and his kids here in Greenpoint also. Four generations!

The exterior of 53 Franklin Street, photo provided by Jacqueline

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