December 11th, 2008 by Ralphie
On Thanksgiving Day, a Hopewell Township family huddled around a laptop during the final moments of an eBay auction, debating how high they’d bid for a chance to spend Christmas in the house where “A Christmas Story” was filmed.
How much would it be worth to spend Christmas Eve eating a Chinese turkey?
What kind of price could you put on a tree bursting with presents such as a blue bowling ball, a can of Simonize and two Red Ryder BB guns?
eBay Giving Works — the charitable arm of the online auction site — had approached Brian Jones, who owns the house, about putting together a holiday package to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the iconic 1983 movie’s release.
Jones, who bought the house on eBay in December 2004, restored it to look like it did in the movie and offers public tours. Across the street, he opened a museum and gift shop.
He had plenty of requests to let people pay to stay there, but until this Christmas, no one — save for Jones and a few friends — had.
When eBay said he could pick his charity, Jones got local businesses to donate their products and services so all the money from the auction could benefit The Wounded Warrior Project for veterans.
“It seemed like a good idea,” he said. “If you’re a fan of ‘A Christmas Story,’ I couldn’t think of a better place to spend the holiday. You get to go and live Christmas just like the Parkers.”
The last minute of the auction, the price jumped and jumped.
“None of us thought we would get it,” Linda Campagna said.
Get it they did — for $5,250.
“That’s a lot — no doubt,” she said. “But we knew it was going to a good organization.”
Her husband, Thomas Streib, was driving to work the week before Thanksgiving when he heard a radio ad say that his favorite movie was filmed not on a set, but in an actual house in Cleveland — and that he could vie to spend Christmas there.
He called Campagna, told her to go online and submit a bid.
Streib loves the movie so much that when he and Campagna met — and he discovered she had never seen it — he made her watch it right away.
The couple are both retired Army First Sergeants, and a friend’s son recently returned from Iraq missing both legs, an arm and with hearing damage. So they wanted to support The Wounded Warrior Project.
“We didn’t do a vacation this year, and we’ve been budgeting and budgeting and budgeting,” Campagna said. “We’ll probably never have another opportunity to do this.”
So, this Christmas morning, they’ll go into the backyard and shoot the BB guns, just like the film’s Ralphie Parker.
They’ll snap pictures of themselves trying on pink bunny suits.
Receive bars of Lifebuoy soap.
They’ll use a crow bar to open a large FRA-GI-LE Major Award crate that will be delivered to the front door of the house.
And, on Christmas Eve, they’ll go to Pearl of the Orient Chinese Restaurant for Peking duck, just like the Parkers did.
Campagna said, “I think I’d rather have turkey.”
ABOUT THE FILM
· The 1983 family comedy by Jean Shepherd tells the story of the Parker family during Christmas in northern Indiana in the 1940s. Nine-year-old Ralphie really wants a Red Ryder BB gun. All of the adults in his life try to convince him that’s not a good idea, hence the memorable line: “You’ll shoot your eye out!”
· TBS airs the movie repeatedly for 24 hours beginning on Christmas Eve.
· This year is the 25th anniversary of the film’s release. Read a related story at ydr.inyork.com/ydr/living/ci_11169071.
Here is a list of memorable quotes from “A Christmas Story.” Add your favorites from this film or whatever is your favorite holiday movie on The Exchange at inyork.com/exchange. Type “favorite holiday movie” in the search bar to join the conversation.
· “You’ll shoot your eye out.” — Several adults
· “Only one thing in the world could’ve dragged me away from the soft glow of electric sex gleaming in the window.” — Ralphie
· “Fra-gee-lay. That must be Italian.” — Mr. Parker
· “He looks like a pink nightmare!” — Mr. Parker
· “I double-DOG-dare ya!” — Schwartz
· “Those icicles have been known to kill people.” — Mrs. Parker
MEET THE FAMILY
Members: Thomas Streib, 47; Linda Campagna, 48; Jamie Streib, 24; Kari Streib, 21; Kate Campagna, 21
Residence: Thomas and Linda live in Hopewell Township
Employer: Thomas and Linda are both employed by The Boeing Co.
Favorite part of the movie: When the hounds come in, and take the Christmas turkey.
ABOUT THE AUCTION
What they get:
· Airfare for up to four people from anywhere in the lower 48 states to Cleveland
· Two-day, two-night stay for four at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel
· Christmas Eve accommodations for four at the “A Christmas Story” house.
· Christmas Eve dinner for four provided by Pearl of the Orient Chinese restaurant
· Christmas Day dinner for four provided by Sans Souci, a fine-dining restaurant in the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel
· $200 stipend for food and beverages during the stay
Duration of auction: 10 days (Nov. 17 to 27)
Starting bid: $9.99
Winning bid: $5,250
No. of bidders: 15
No. of bids: 33
ABOUT THE HOUSE
Address: 3159 W. 11th St., Cleveland, Ohio
Owner: Brian Jones of San Diego
Related buildings: Museum and gift shop across the street, where you can buy everything from leg lamps to decoder pins and see original props, costumes and memorabilia from the film, as well as hundreds of behind-the-scenes photos.
For more: Visit: www.achristmasstoryhouse.com.
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