After 20+ years of decorating his house for the holidays, and dressing like Santa Claus to boot, the owner of The North Buffalo Christmas House, Joseph Pandolfino, has officially hung up his Santa suit and is selling the house. It’s certainly a sad day for North Buffalo, because anyone who is that dedicated to spreading cheer, will be sorely missed in coming years. And these days, most people rely on inflatables from Lowe’s to get the job done. But not Joseph. The guy was relentless in his pursuit to create a scene that put Santa’s own abode to shame.
I caught up with Joseph, and his daughter Annette, earlier in the week, to discuss their fond memories of the house, and the holiday spirit that blessed the family over the years. Joseph started by telling me that while he loved to decorate the house, he especially enjoyed dressing up as Santa Claus. “Kids would come from all over the place,” said Joseph. “I would sit out in front of the house for three hours at time, while kids climbed up on my lap and told me what they wanted for Christmas. Most of the time, I had no idea what they were talking about, but I played along. What I did know was that it was really cold, even though I was wearing two sets of pants.”
Annette, who now lives in Syracuse, told me that when she was young she didn’t quite appreciate it like she did later on. “I thought that it was annoying when I was little,” said Annette [laughing]. “Droves of people would always be walking around the house. They would even knock on the door and ask if they could come inside. He loved the attention and the accolades. He would start to work on decorating the house in early fall – he did everything himself.”
Joseph told me that there were 20,000 lights on the house. He also had 20 reindeer stationed outside. One year, someone stole one of the reindeer, and the Buffalo Zoo arrived the next day with a real live deer. Joseph couldn’t believe it. He was thrilled by the visit. Those were the types of things that kept him dedicated to the project over the years.
Although Joseph stopped decorating the house a few years back, the neighborhood still refers to 203 Colvin as the Christmas House. “Everywhere I go, someone asks me about the house,” said Annette. “I got engaged in front of the house on Christmas even in 1991.”
It looks like it’s the end of an era. At the same time, the memories linger on. “The neighborhood hasn’t changed at all,” reflected Joseph, who, along with support from his family, made his mark on Buffalo. “There are still a lot of nice people living here.”
Yes, it’s true. North Buffalo is a tight-knit community that will help to carry the torch for Joseph, in the form of the memories that they possess. Joseph didn’t just spread good cheer, he passed along many gifts over the years. I’m not talking about the presents that the children (hopefully) received under the tree. I’m talking about the true spirit of the holidays that he passed along. Those memories have been carried forward by the children, who are now parents. And they will pass along those memories to their own kids, who will hopefully understand that there’s a lot more to Christmas than opening the presents under the tree. If you ask me, that’s a true legacy that Joseph, and his family, should be proud of.
If you’re interested in viewing The Christmas Tree House, the showing is this coming Sunday, March 25 (1pm to 3pm). The listing agent is Chris Lavey. See the listing here. “Spacious little Spanish revival house – 3 bed two full bath, stained glass, leaded glass, two wood burning fire places, finished basement with second kitchen.”
Selling for $209K.