A New Jersey man sets up an award-winning Christmas light display in his yard to celebrate beating cancer. Back in 2014, John Russo told his girlfriend, Toni Alessio, that if he was able to beat his throat cancer, he’d celebrate by putting up a massive Christmas light display at their home in Paramus, New Jersey. So when he beat the disease the next year, he started an annual holiday tradition that area residents have come to love.
This year, Russo’s display is back and bigger than ever. The decorations include Christmas inflatables and thousands of lights synced to a 40-minute holiday soundtrack. Russo claims the display costs him about $200 a month in additional electricity. Named one of the best private seasonal shows in North Jersey, residents from all around the area come by the house seven nights a week to experience it.
For the first time, Russo is using his display’s popularity to raise money for a good cause. Visitors to his yard can donate to the Paramus PBA’s toy drive using a dropbox placed outside his home. And while it’s not easy for the 66-year-old cancer survivor to do the physical work to get all those lights up every year, Russo says it’s worth it for the joy that it brings his visitors. “As far as setting it up, it’s aggravating and fun at the same time,” he says. “But well worth it in the end when it all works.”