The director of this production is Charles Jusino, who jokingly refers to himself as a “frustrated actor” and his house around the holidays his “Broadway stage.” The display in his front yard consists of toy soldiers, penguins, snowmen, teddy bears, Mickey Mouse, gingerbread men, a Ferris wheel, a carousel, and, of course, Santa.
“I like to make Christmas special for the kids,” he says.
Jusino has been decorating his house this way for over 20 years here in Woodhaven (after 20 years before that in Cypress Hills). He credits his love for Christmas to his mother, who sang in a Christmas choir and always made sure the home was beautifully decorated.
“It was her favorite holiday,” he said.
That love for Christmas has given birth to something that brings happiness not only to the residents of Woodhaven, but to the people from all over who come to see the annual display.
“I had one woman last year who was here visiting from Peru, and another from Chile,” Jusino said.
Locally, he gets visitors from all over Queens, recalling a van full of people that pulled up one night after having seen pictures of his house on Facebook.
Jusino not only goes all out for Christmas, but his Halloween display is every bit as extravagant. Each October 31, a line of trick-or-treaters stretches down the block waiting to enter the gates of his yard for a tour of his haunted house.
Putting out the decorations for each holiday takes about two weeks, and when not on display they take up two separate rooms in his attic. And if that wasn’t enough, he’s got a lot more decorations stored in the garage.
“I can‘t fit my cars in there anymore!” he said.
Many of the pieces have been part of his family for many years, and he proudly points out some of the older items, many of them dating back to Harrow’s in Valley Stream and, naturally, Lewis' of Woodhaven.
“One year, when I was living in Cypress Hills, I came home from work and noticed my lights hadn’t come on,” he recalls. It turned out that someone had unscrewed most of the bulbs and stolen them. Mr. Jusino came to Lewis’ to replace them. “After I told Jeff what had happened, he said ‘Don’t worry about it. I’ve got boxes of lights in the basement’ and he donated them to me.”
So how much do these displays end up adding to the Jusino’s electric bill?
“Unbelievable as it may seem, it’s not that much more between the two holidays, maybe about $100 extra,” he said.
The residents of Woodhaven love the display and they are anxious to see them lit each year, but he avoids any rush to put out the Christmas lights.
“It seems like a lot of people have forgotten Thanksgiving; I refuse to put the Christmas lights on before then,” he explains.
The display that Charles Jusino puts up is a bright spot in our community, a tradition that residents of Woodhaven look forward to each year.
“As long as God gives me energy and strength, I’ll keep it going,” Jusino said.
We look forward to seeing his future productions for many years to come.
To see the beautiful display that Charles Jusino has created, visit 86-04 91st Street (between Jamaica Avenue and Park Lane South). The lights go on each day at 4:30 and go off at 11 p.m. (music turns off at 10 p.m.).