Staten Island Man's Winter Wonderland Honors Wife Killed On 9/11

WCBS 880 Newsroom
December 01, 2019 - 2:54 pm
DiMartino Winter Wonderland

WCBS 880

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – There are plenty of extravagant Christmas displays going up all around our area, but one of them on Staten Island holds a little extra meaning.

The Charleston section of Staten Island is home to Joe DiMartino’s incredible Christmas village. It may not be the city's biggest Christmas display, but it just might be the most heartwarming.

Asked why he does this every year, DiMartino told WCBS 880 reporter Steve Burns to turn around.

“Look. Turn around and look at all these faces. Those faces are kids and adults,” he said.

Their eyes were wide with wonder at what DiMartino has created in his yard.

“You're in front of the winter wonderland. The DiMartino Winter Wonderland,” he said. “This is the result of my madness.”

Taking a walk into DiMartino’s backyard, visitors can see different Victorian displays all moving and revolving: a dress shop, a bakery, a dance hall and a toy shop, among others.

There isn’t an admission for the attraction, but there is a donation box. Those donations go to help pediatric cancer patients at Staten Island University Hospital.

DiMartino says he also does it in memory of his late wife Debra Ann, who was killed at the World Trade Center on 9/11.

“After that horrible day, when people were there for me and my family—this is my turn to give back. And this is what I’m doing,” he said.

DiMartino says his wife probably wouldn’t be pleased with so many people going through her backyard.

“So I always say, ‘I’m sorry, but this is all in memory of you,’” he said.

It took about three months for DiMartino to put all the displays up. He admits it's hard work but that the looks of amazement and wonder on visitors make it all worth it.

“I want everybody to smile. I want everybody to come here and forget all the craziness that's going on in the world,” he said.