A New Jersey man went on a mission to make people’s lives better during the holiday season – a mission he swore to himself as he fought for his own life.
Lozier Court in Paramus appears to be an average quiet suburban street until the Russo house passes by. Christmas pours out of every crack and every inch of the front yard, and John Russo says the Wonderland of Lights has become his life’s work.
“I just fell in love with her. She fell in love with her, it just went on. I kept buying more lights and putting them up,” he said.
The idea for the elaborate staging came in 2014 on a kind of risk. It was a promise Russo made to his girlfriend after he was diagnosed with throat cancer when she told him to build a light show if he survived. And he did.
“It’s been a long, tough fight. It was seven weeks of chemo and radiation torture,” recalls Russo.
Not only did Russo survive, but he’s been in clean health every year since then. That means he added a new feature every year, and this year a dancing penguin.
John works on it year round and has personally programmed all of the 12,000+ lights to match a playlist that can be found on the radio. The whole display costs hundreds of dollars in electricity, not to mention the thousands he spent on lighting himself. But he says it’s worth it.
Hundreds of cars show up on the weekends, Russo demands a donation for Toys for Tots as the only payment.
“I love it. I love it. I love listening to the kids outside screaming and screaming,” said Russo.
A present for his young neighbors, from a man who is just happy that he received the gift of survival.