Macomb Township, MI

Teen decorates three houses for Christmas in Michigan community

Author Ed Anderson
AJ Vultaggio standing next to one of his Christmas displaysFacebook

AJ Vultaggio,19, is a teen who likes to spread holiday cheer throughout his Macomb Township neighborhood. Though he doesn't take credit for his love of Christmas, instead, he says that it's because of his family.

He told WXYZ that his family always decorated for Christmas and that the display was always "nice." Then slowly, he began to want to do the presentation himself. His love of the holidays expanded each year, and he needed a way to show it.

Over the summers, he would mow his neighbors' lawns. Using the money he earned from doing that to buy more decorations for Christmas.

Each new decoration made his display more extensive and more elaborate. A few years ago, one neighbor offered to let AJ use his yard to expand on the display.

The young man told reporters: "They knew that I had extra decorations and we'd joke around and they always said, 'you can extend over,' so, in 2016, I ended up doing their yard."

After that, other neighbors began offering AJ to decorate their yards as well. Now he decorates three houses in his subdivision, and it has become a tradition for the neighborhood to come together to see what he has come up with.

That part is what thrills AJ. He said, "I love when people come by. That's the main big factor for why I do it. I love seeing the people coming by and just their reactions and everything. It's really nice to see."
Another display by AJ VultaggioFacebook

Hard work, lots of joy

The decorating job starts in early November. AJ says that he pulls out all of his decorations the first week of the month. Once that's done, he checks the lights and makes sure nothing is broken.

Then he begins putting up the decorations. It takes him weeks; this year, it took him to the week of Thanksgiving to get everything put up.

His neighbor, Nicole Vigneau, revealed the amount of time AJ puts into the displays: "He will be out there literally every day off, after work, in between classes."

It took so long because he added something new to the display this year, a 23 piece nativity set. He handcrafted the entire thing, and it is the centerpiece of the new display for the neighborhood this year.

AJ's grandfather taught him woodwork and making sure everything looked good. Doing that was a bonding for the two men.

He explained to the Macomb Community College newspaper, Real Students, "The two of us would spend as much time as we could together. We enjoyed each other's company and we were always working on some type of project, which usually had something to do with Christmas."

Neighbors enjoy his enthusiasm and the hard work that he puts into the display every year.
AJ Vultaggio created a handcrafted Nativity scene for this year's Christmas displayPixabay

The most wonderful time of the year

Many in AJ's community love the infectious joy he gets from decorating the houses. They say it's refreshing to see him into something that is so pure and wholesome.

"We get really excited with him. It's nice to see him so into something so innocent, you know? I mean, it's just an innocent thing for him, but he's so into it. So he's a genuine kid, you know, it's really great," AJ's neighbor Perri Kern said.

The joy that is brought to everyone else is just icing on the cake.

AJ said: "My favorite part about doing all of this is I love seeing the people's reactions. People come from all over and you just see their faces light up. It makes it all worth it just for that. I get so much enjoyment just lighting people up and getting them into the spirit of the season."

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Ed Anderson is a true crime and gossip writer from Detroit, Michigan. Ed is the author of several true crime books, most recently Financing Doubt.

Rochester, MI

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