Jess Buzzutto, better known as the Yonkers Leprechaun, is being remembered fondly by his community in the wake of his death on Wednesday morning following a battle with illness. Buzzutto was 70 years old.
The Yonkers Daily Voice reports on the death of the beloved community figure. The identity was thrust upon 5-foot-tall Buzzutto later in his life, as he had grown out a beard which happened to be red, and often donned a green outdoorsman cap.
“People would walk down the street saying ‘Hey, there’s a leprechaun,’” Buzzutto’s sister Eileen said. “So he started to play it up a little, dressing more and more Irish.”
At first he wasn’t too sure about the ‘leprechaun’ nickname. However, he told The New York Times in 2010: “I finally figured out I liked it. And other people liked it. So why not?”
Buzzutto fully embraced the new identity by wearing all green, all the time. He put leprechaun and shamrock pins on his hat, and stuck a bumper sticker on his car that read ‘I brake for leprechauns.’
“I’ve thought about this many times, and I can’t find any downside to this,” said Buzzutto.
“Anyone who looks like this, and doesn’t know he looks like a leprechaun,” Buzzutto said to the New York Times, “is a dunderhead, for crying out loud.”
The Yonkers community embraced Buzzutto’s leprechaun identity as much as he did. People would always beep and wave hello whenever they passed Buzzutto, to which he would return with a smile and a tip of his hat.
A Facebook page named “the yonkers leprechaun that lives on roberts aveee.” has gained nearly 11,500 fans, many of whom have expressed their respects for Buzzutto since his death this week.
“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.”
Aside from his leprechaun looks, Buzzutto is remembered for his constant giving back to the community. He was dedicated to beautifying his neighborhood with his detailed keeping of his garden, and served his community through the local senior citizens home and his annual snow-pants collection for the underprivileged in the winter.
“He wanted to give everybody in Yonkers a gift and that was his gift,” his sister Eileen said. Judging by the outpouring on social media networks, Buzzutto’s gift of kindness was well-received and will be remembered for years to come.