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Yard Art: Decorated classic Jeep serves as photo backdrop in Citrus Heights

Milla Oliferchik poses for a photo with her four children in front of her family’s decorated 1955 Jeep Willys. // S. Williams

By Sara Beth Williams–
During the pandemic, Citrus Heights residents Milla and Denis Oliferchik bought a classic 1955 Jeep Willys in hopes of completely restoring it to its former glory. However, within the first weekend, Milla Oliferchik said their plans began to shift.

The classic Jeep doesn’t run, so it had to be transported by trailer to their property at the end of Church Lane in Citrus Heights. Oliferchik said she and her husband had planned to restore the truck later on, after finishing construction on an addition to their property.

The Jeep sits out front of the property’s electric driveway gate, with vining plants as a backdrop, its paint long-since faded to reveal rusty gray, brown and burnt orange. Because the property is located next to a church, Citrus Heights Fellowship, Oliferchik said people visiting nearby immediately began to ask if they could take photos in front of the old jeep, which only had hay bales and a pumpkin or two as décor.

“Since it became such a big hit, we thought we might just actually leave it here as yard art permanently,” Oliferchik said, adding that restoring the jeep would be a massive project. Within a month, the family decided to decorate the classic jeep according to the season.

The truck is nicknamed with a social media hashtag of #mrwillys and is currently decorated for the fall season, with orange and white pumpkins grown by the family, pots of colorful fresh flowers, and bales of hay.

The first Monday after Thanksgiving, the truck is slated to be dressed up for Christmas and the winter season. Later in the spring, the family plans to fill the truck bed with colorful flowers and will leave those up through the summer. A large American flag will be added around Independence Day.

Oliferchik says the truck is here to stay and invites anyone interested to drop by and use the truck as a photo backdrop at 7645 Church Lane. She only asks that people tag the truck when posting on social media, to share their memories.

“For the longevity of our stay at this place, it’ll be here,” she said.

Using the decorated jeep as a photo backdrop is free of charge, but a donation box is being considered to cover the cost of replacing rotten pumpkins or purchasing flowers and other décor.

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