October 30th, 2006 by Ralphie
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
HO-HO-HO! HOUSE FROM “A CHRISTMAS STORY” MOVIE OPENS IN CLEVELAND
The home featured in the 1983 holiday film welcomes visitors
to relive moments from the nostalgic classic
CLEVELAND – Oct. 30, 2006 – Since the 1983 release of the hilarious holiday classic “A Christmas Story,” fans have driven past or stopped to see the house that was home to Ralphie Parker and his 1940s family. Some snap a quick picture of the Parker house. Others walk down the driveway to the backyard to see the shed and where Ralphie nearly “shot his eye out” with his treasured Red Ryder BB gun.
Starting Nov. 25, 2006, fans of the film will be able to tour the inside and outside of A Christmas Story House when it opens Thanksgiving weekend as the latest pop culture destination and tourist attraction in Cleveland. Located at 3159 W. 11th Street in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland, the house pays tribute to the film and its fictional residents – The Old Man, Mrs. Parker, Ralphie and younger brother Randy.
“The house’s grand opening coincides with Cleveland’s annual Winterfest celebration, kicking off the holiday season,” said Brian Jones, owner of A Christmas Story House. “I can’t think of a more appropriate time of the year to open the house and get into the holiday spirit. Actors from the movie including Ian Petrella (Randy), Scott Schwartz (Flick), Tedde Moore (Miss Shields), Zack Ward (Scut Farkus), Yano Anaya (Grover Dill), Patty Johnson (Head Elf) and Drew Hocevar (Male Elf) will reunite and help us officially open A Christmas Story House to fans of this popular family Christmas film.”
Visitors to A Christmas Story House will feel that they have just stepped into the 1940s, taking a nostalgic trip through the Parker home. Though most of the interior shots seen in the movie were done in a studio in Canada, the house has been renovated to look like it did in the movie. The beacon that will draw “A Christmas Story” fans to the house is the infamous leg lamp displayed prominently in the front living room window (after all, it’s a major award of which The Old Man is very proud). Several pieces of furniture were donated by fans of the movie who wanted to help with the restoration of A Christmas Story House.
In addition to the house, guests can tour the accompanying museum dedicated to the film. It is located directly across the street from A Christmas Story House at 1103 Rowley Ave. and is where tickets to the house can be purchased and where all tours begin. The museum features more than 100 behind-the-scenes photos and items donated by actors from the movie. For instance, Ian Petrella who portrayed Randy has donated his “I can’t put my arms down” snowsuit, toy zeppelin and rat from Miss Shields’ drawer to be on display. The museum also includes a gift shop where items such as leg lamps, T-shirts, painting, pictures, action figures, Ovaltine, Lifebuoy Soap, secret decoder pins and pink bunny suits are available for purchase.
Jones, 30, of San Diego, purchased the home – sight unseen – in an eBay auction without ever having been to Cleveland or Ohio. A former Navy intelligence officer, Jones is a huge fan of “A Christmas Story” and sells leg lamps (just like the one in the movie) for a living through his online site www.RedRiderLegLamps.com. Since 2003, he has sold more than 6,500 leg lamps to movie fans across the country and throughout the world.
He learned that the original house from “A Christmas Story” was for sale from his wife, Beverly, who was serving on the USS Bonhomme Richard, a U.S. amphibious assault ship, heading to the Middle East. Beverly’s captain had one of Jones’ leg lamps and told Beverly about the online auction. A few days later, Beverly e-mailed her husband about the house, and less than 24 hours later, he informed her that he purchased the house. “She wasn’t sure if she should laugh or cry,” Jones said.
Jones purchased the 111-year-old house for $150,000 on Feb. 1, 2005, and estimates he will spend an additional $200,000 for the restoration work that started January 2006 with most of the money coming from sales of his leg lamp business. He also purchased the house across the street to serve as the museum for $129,000.
Since the filming of the movie 23 years ago, the house has been renovated several times by various homeowners. When Jones came to Cleveland to see the house for the first time, he saw that vinyl siding had been installed over the original yellow paint with green trim. The house also was re-roofed and had new windows installed. The house also was turned into a duplex, and much work would need to be done to change it back into a single-family home and update all of the electrical wiring and plumbing.
“I thought that the house from ‘A Christmas Story’ would be a cool place to visit,” Jones said. “When I saw it with the gray siding and the updates that had been made to it over the years, I didn’t want the house to fade away and become unrecognizable. I wanted to bring it back to its original movie appearance. Borrowing from another movie that has thousands of visitors to its movie site, I thought that if I build it, they [“A Christmas Story” fans] will come.”
To help Jones with this venture is Cleveland-native Steven Siedlecki who worked previously at the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland. Siedlecki serves as curator and director of A Christmas Story House and has overseen the renovation work. Siedlecki is a big fan of the movie, too, and has driven past the house numerous times since childhood, visiting relatives in that neighborhood. Once he learned that Jones was going to restore the house and create a museum, Siedlecki knew he had to be a part of it.
Beginning Nov. 25, A Christmas Story House is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. After Jan. 16, 2007, the house will be open Thursdays through Sundays only. Admission to A Christmas Story House is $5 for adults and $3 for children. Group discounts are available. The price of admission includes a guided tour of the house and yard and admittance into the museum.
A Christmas Story House is located just five minutes from downtown Cleveland at 3159 W. 11th Street in the Tremont neighborhood. For more information or for directions, visit www.AChristmasStoryHouse.com or call 216-298-4919.
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