YONKERS, N.Y. – Those who knew the late “Yonkers Leprechaun” are honoring his legacy by bringing some familiar holiday cheer to the city.
Family members and neighbors have pitched in to decorate Jesse Buzzutto’s home at Nepperhan and Roberts avenues with elaborate Christmas decorations, just as the green-clad gardener had done for so many years.
“I said to my daughter, 'This is kind of sad,' ” said Buzzutto’s sister, Eileen Logiudice. “She said to me, ‘This may be sad for us, but Jess is sure smiling down on us. He’s loving his lights.' ”
Buzzutto, the man known affectionately by many as the “Yonkers Leprechaun” because of the green clothing that adorned his 5-foot frame, died in September of congestive heart failure.
Friends and family remembered Buzzutto for many things, including his over-the-top Christmas decorations that were among the most elaborate in the city. Dozens of snowmen, "Nutcracker" characters and Santa Claus statues lined his front yard, along with a light and music display that friends say was second to none.
“The Boston Symphony Orchestra isn’t as well tended to as his lights,” said neighbor Kathy Zatkovich.
Initially, Logiudice did not plan to undertake the monumental task that is decorating Buzzutto’s house. But after some prodding from friends and neighbors, Logiudice and her family decided to give it a try.
As it turned out, Buzzutto had made it easier for them, leaving detailed drawings of exactly where each decoration was to be placed. So for the past three weekends family and friends have been placing the elaborate ornaments around the house just as Buzzutto did.
And on Thanksgiving Day, the family members celebrated as they had for so many years before – by lighting the decorations.
“We lit them exactly at the time he did, and we looked on as family like we always did,” Logiudice said. “It was wonderful.”
On Saturday, family members and neighbors will be back to work in Buzzutto's front yard, putting the finishing touches on the decorations. For them, it will be a fitting way to pay tribute to the man they loved so dearly.
“It’s not Christmas without seeing his house lit up,” said 21-year-old Stephanie Zatkovich, who along with her brother, Matt, helped Buzzutto decorate his house for more than a decade.
“And seeing it, it reminds me how great it was knowing him.”