YONKERS, N.Y. -- As the end of 2012 nears, The Yonkers Daily Voice is taking a look back at some of the year's biggest stories.
Yonkers lost one of its more memorable residents in September when Jess Buzzutto, the beloved man known better as the Yonkers' leprechaun, died.
The 70-year-old retired computer programmer’s home on the corner of Nepperhan and Roberts avenues was well known to many in the city because of its elaborate holiday decorations and meticulous garden.
Yet, it was the green clothing that always adorned Buzzutto’s 5-foot frame that gained him the title of Yonkers' leprechaun and made him a legend in the city.
It all started 20 years earlier by accident, his family said, when Buzzutto bought a set of green gardening clothes to landscape his house and a passerby called him a leprechaun.
Eventually, he embraced the moniker and began pinning shamrocks and leprechauns on his hat. He even posted an “I brake for leprechauns” bumper sticker on his car and hung a sign in his driveway, declaring the lot as “Parking for Leprechauns Only.”
And people loved it. As he worked in his garden, cars would honk their horns and neighbors would wave hello. Every time, Buzzutto would tip his hat and wave.
After his passing, friends and family remembered him for his kind and generous spirit.
“He was always friendly, always jolly,” longtime neighbor Mike Riley said. “He was just a really nice guy. If you ever needed anything, you could ask him.”
In November, friends and family paid tribute to Buzzutto by adorning his house with the elaborate Christmas decorations that had become a staple in the city.
“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.”