Steve Kaselak, Jellybeanville
Zeman Avenue , Euclid, Ohio, 44132, us
Seasonal, displays in the Springtime near Easter
About the Artist/Site
Al Yockey, the neighborhood “egg man” who delivered eggs to local homes in young Steve Kaselak’s neighborhood in the1960s, also installed an annual Easter egg display. Kaselak was extremely taken by this installation, and asked Yockey if he might help, so he was delighted that Yockey let him paint rocks and arrange the stuffed animals. By age seven, Kaselak was already determined to maintain this tradition, and early family photos of the Zeman Avenue home—where he continues to live today— show modest front yard displays from the mid-1960s through the 1970s. Ironically, Kaselak’s mother, born on Easter Sunday, initially discouraged him from putting up larger displays – because Kaselak wanted each year’s display to be bigger than the year before—but the as-yet-unnamed Jellybeanville was already becoming a popular neighborhood attraction. Kaselak’s mother died in 1985, and by the late 1980s his “over-the-top” inclinations were on full display.
For more than a generation, Jellybeanville has become an annual family tradition for numerous local residents. Kaselak begins planning each year’s display in January, and it takes him about two weeks to set up each new seasonal installation. Kaselak completely re-arranges the display every year, although one constant are the hand-painted wooden cutouts of his parents — his mother sporting a brightly textured new Easter Sunday dress each year. Steve makes sure the color red (strictly for Christmas and Valentine’s Day) is nowhere to be seen, and one year the display included live ducks. Another year, live goats competed with the booming big band-era Easter music, and the display now bursts out of the teeming front yard, runs up the driveway, onto the garage, and spills over into the backyard. Kaselak places lights throughout, and from twilight on, Jellybeanville’s Easter pastels light up the night. Steve attends midnight mass on Easter Sunday, and the display always includes a prominently placed egg cross.
Weather permitting, he tries to have Jellybeanville completed by Palm Sunday—only to dissolve and disappear into its postwar suburban Cleveland surroundings by Easter Monday. Needing a much-deserved day of rest, Kaselak takes Easter Sunday off and is nowhere to be seen. In his stead, Peter Cottontail— the Easter Bunny himself— takes over the festivities, and delights in handing out baskets of goodies to the kids and providing rare “celebrity” photo-ops for visitors. Jellybeanville annually collects several hundred dollars for charity (the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center), and receives much local as well as national (CNN- HLN) media attention.
Formerly a mortician, Kaselak, who is now in the hotel business and always in the hospitality mode, even when he’s away from work, along with his alter-ego, Peter Cottontail— confections in hand— warmly welcome their constant stream of visitors. He has requested that his niece, who will be his Executor, place the cardboard standup of the Easter Bunny that he keeps in his house next to the casket at his funeral.
Map & Site Information
Euclid, Ohio, 44132 us
Latitude/Longitude: 41.6118721 / -81.5043302
Mitiwanga , Ohio