Archive for November, 2007

“A Crummy Commercial”!?

November 13th, 2007 by Ralphie

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‘Christmas Story’ fans to convene in Cleveland, Post-Gazette, Nov 04, 2007

November 4th, 2007 by Ralphie

Link to Original Article

‘Ralphies’ gathering on Thanksgiving weekend
Sunday, November 04, 2007
A leg lamp glows in the window of “A Christmas Story” House and Museum in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood. Brian Jones has restored the three-story, wood-frame house to its appearance in the movie and it’s open for tours.

If you identify with Ralphie Parker, the 9-year-old Midwestern boy who longed for a BB gun, you may wish to spend Thanksgiving weekend in Cleveland with fans of the movie “A Christmas Story.”

That’s when your fellow “Ralphies” will meet actors who played in the 1983 cult classic, tour the restored Cleveland home used in the movie and enjoy a Christmas dinner, just like the Parker family, at the C & Y Chinese restaurant.

“It helps you relive the movie. The [restaurant] owner even bought uniforms that look just like they do in the movie,” said Brian Jones, the California man who bought, renovated and opened “A Christmas Story” house in Tremont, just outside of Cleveland’s downtown.

Parked in the home’s driveway will be the restored 1937 Oldsmobile touring sedan used in the infamous scene where Ralphie utters a four-letter word while helping his father change a tire. Fans will even be able to shoot BB guns in the back yard of “A Christmas Story” house.

The convention will be held Nov. 23-24. So far, the Renaissance Hotel in Cleveland has sold 150 convention packages that include an overnight stay, breakfast, trolley transportation to Tremont, a tour of the famous house and a meet-and-greet session with the movie’s cast members.

Notably absent from the convention will be Peter Billingsley, the actor who played Ralphie Parker. Now a television producer, Mr. Billingsley has not shown any interest in reliving this part of his career. But the actors who played Randy, Flick, Scut Farkus, Grover Dill, Miss Shields and the evil elves will be there. Darren McGavin, who played the curmudgeonly father “Old Man,” died in February 2006.

The convention, Mr. Jones said, was a natural because actors enjoyed coming out and signing autographs when “A Christmas Story” house, museum and gift shop opened nearly a year ago this month.

“Why not ‘A Christmas Story’ convention? There are so many fans!” Mr. Jones said in a telephone interview from his native San Diego.

More than 35,000 people have toured “A Christmas Story” house since it opened.

“We had a steady crowd in the summer months, which was kind of a surprise,” Mr. Jones said.

Among the most ardent Ralphies is Tyler Schwartz, a Canadian public relations consultant who will discuss at the convention his adventures in making a documentary about all the places associated with the movie.

“He has been to a building where the Christmas tree lot was. He has been to the original spot for the Chinese restaurant,” which is in Canada, Mr. Jones said.

Mr. Schwartz also found the Canadian school where the classroom scenes were filmed and obtained a chalkboard and coat rack and donated them to the museum that is across the street from the “Christmas Story” house.

The film is set in the 1940s. Ralphie’s decoder pin is the 1940 Speed-o-matic. His dad’s car registration is dated 1940. Mrs. Parker’s copies of Look magazines date from the late 1930s.

Visitors often ask Mr. Jones to autograph everything from pieces of aluminum siding to leg lamps, a kitschy “special award” that Ralphie Parker’s father receives in the movie.

Before he bought the famous house in Cleveland, Mr. Jones started a business called Red Rider Leg Lamps. He founded the company after learning that his eyesight would prevent him from becoming a naval pilot.

“It’s a fun joke, if you know the movie. I think it’s catching on as a Christmas decoration. We sell a couple thousand each year. All the local businesses will put them up in Tremont. I still have a dream that every window throughout America will have a leg lamp,” he said.

Recently, Mr. Jones spent $20,000 to buy the 1937 Oldsmobile touring sedan, which, he said, cost less than his Toyota Tacoma. He paid a vintage expert in Canton, Ohio, about $5,000 to restore the chrome, paint it black and fix the back seat.

“When I bought the house, a gentleman contacted me and said, ‘I have the car used in the movie,’ ” Mr. Jones recalled.

Mr. Jones, whose wife is expecting their second child on Jan. 2, also has expanded his real estate holdings in Cleveland. Just across 11th Street from the house that served as the Parkers’ home, he bought a blue house and turned it into a well-stocked gift shop. That move has allowed him to expand the museum, which is nearby on the same street.

Besides an exhibition about the restored Oldsmobile, Mr. Jones said, “We’re getting some more pictures from the Warner Bros. vault.”

Mr. Jones and his employees have added more touches to the Parker home, such as a wax turkey that looks and smells real, children’s toys and a Canadian phone known as a blooper that was used in the movie.

“Someone made a kitchen table and chairs that look like the one in the movie. He drove it up from Kentucky or Tennessee for free,” Mr. Jones said.

Marylynne Pitz may be reached at 412-263-1648 or mpitz@post-gazette.com.

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November 2007 Newsletter

November 1st, 2007 by Ralphie

Greetings, fellow fans of “A Christmas Story!”

 

Our first ever “A Christmas Story” Convention is just three weeks away!  If you haven’t already, it’s time to book your trip for the big two-day extravaganza, set for Friday and Saturday, November 23 and 24, 2007 here in Cleveland. 

 

Come meet the actors and be here for the unveiling of the family care used in the film, a 1937 Oldsmobile Touring Sedan, and the chalkboard on which Miss Shields wrote “A+++++++.”  While you’re here, you will have the chance to meet Ian Petrella (Randy), Scott Schwartz (Flick), Zack Ward (Scut Farkus), Yano Anaya (Grover Dill), Tedde Moore (Miss Shields), and Patty Johnson and Drew Hocevar (the two evil elves). 

 

There will also be a character look-alike contest, screenings of the movie, tours of “A Christmas Story” House & Museum, a BB gun shooting range, and the Cleveland Winterfest parade and fireworks.  Plus, you can purchase tickets to join the actors for a special “Chinese Turkey” dinner at C&Y Chinese Restaurant. Tickets are $45 for adults and $22.50 for children.  There will be fees for autographs (as determined by the actors),

 

Complete convention details, including how to purchase tickets for the Chinese Turkey dinner, are on our website, and you can call the House Thursday-Sunday at 216-298-4919, and Wednesdays beginning next week for more information. 

 

Our partner The Renaissance Cleveland Hotel is offering packages that include deluxe accommodations and buffet breakfast for two, complimentary parking, tickets to “A Christmas Story” House & Museum with free roundtrip trolley transportation, and in-room screenings of the movie.  A similar weekend package is available after the Convention through February 3.  For more information on the packages, call the Renaissance at 1-800-228-9290 and ask for promotional code H09, or use this link xxxxx.  Many of the Convention activities will take place at the Renaissance and are free of charge.

 

Calling all Ralphie look alikes!

 

Daisy Outdoor Products is offering a special incentive for children 10 and older who enter the character look-alike contest dressed as Ralphie Parker.  The makers of the Daisy Red Ryder BB Gun, based in Rogers, Arkansas will choose one winner from the top five “Ralphies” to appear on the packaging of a special edition BB gun, with “a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time” in honor of the “A Christmas Dream” Red Ryder BB gun which was produced in 1983 and used in the movie.  Along with the prestige of posing as Ralphie, the winner will receive $100, their very own Red Ryder Range Model Air Rifle and a Leg Lamp.  Daisy officials anticipate choosing the winner by early January and conducting the photo shoot in Cleveland in February or March.   

 

The character look-alike contest will be judged by “Randy” and “Flick”.  Winners in all character categories will win Leg Lamps and other “major awards!”

 

A panel discussion will take place on Saturday afternoon with our owner, Brian Jones, and filmmakers Deren Abram and Tyler Schwartz.   Deren is the producer of ClarkWORLD, a documentary about his long-time friend and mentor, the late Bob Clark, who co-wrote and directed “A Christmas Story.”   Tyler, along with Jordie Smits, both natives of St. Catharines, Ontario, are making a documentary, “Road Trip for Ralphie” which chronicles their quest to visit all of the film’s shooting locations from Cleveland to Canada, including the Victoria School in St. Catharines.  A key scene involves the two fans salvaging the chalkboard from Miss Shields’ classroom on the day the building was gutted for remodeling.  There will be a special sneak peak at their film during the Convention.

 

Parking at the House can be challenging to say the least, so Lolly the Trolley is offering round-trip transportation from the Renaissance and Tremont’s Clark Fields to the House on Friday, Nov. 23 and Saturday, Nov. 24.  Trips depart every half hour and round-trip tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children from the Hotel, and $1 (adults and children) from Clark Fields near Clark and W. 7th Str. in Tremont.   I strongly encourage you to take advantage of the ample parking downtown and at Clark Fields and travel by Trolley.

 

 “A Christmas Story” House & Museum will be open from 10 am to 5 pm on Friday, Nov. 23, 10 am to 8 pm on Saturday, Nov. 24 and noon to 5 pm on Sunday, Nov. 25.  Regular admission rates of $7 for adults, $6 for seniors (ages 60+), and $5 for children (ages 7-12) will apply.  Children ages 6 and under are admitted for free.  

Steve Siedlecki

Executive Director, A Christmas Story House

 

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