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The House from ‘A Christmas Story’ is Ready for Your Holiday Visit

December 6th, 2013 by Ralphie

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A Christmas Story House Cleveland Ohio

The TV movie marathon hasn’t started just yet, but it’s only a matter of a time before A Christmas Story is rolling 24/7 on screens around the nation. This year you can actually skip watching the film and check it out in real life, as the house used for some of the filming has been restored, is looking great, and is open for public tours all year long.

Yes—there is a leg lamp in the window—and there’s plenty of props, memorabilia, costumes, and other bits and pieces from the film. The place is one part movie set and one part museum, and of course there’s a gift shop where you can bring home a little of the movie back to where you call home. The address has seen its share of visitors thus far, as they’ve had more than 100,000 fans swing on through.

This year is better than most as the movie is celebrating its 30th anniversary, so there’s all kinds of extra events. If you haven’t already overdone it on the holiday cookies and are looking to score a major award, there’s both a 5K and 10K run hitting the streets of Cleveland this weekend. They’re still looking for a few volunteers to help run things (literally)—they even promise “a very cool Christmas Story Run T-Shirt” for helping out.

If you are more into sitting back and relaxing rather than running through town, that’s not a problem, asthere’s an opportunity to also spend the night at the place. A charity auction is now in progress on eBay—of course—and the bids are only up to around $3,000. Sure that’s a lot of cash, but we were sure some super-fans would push it to $5k or more.

The big winner gets a two-night stay for up to four people right in the house, and they’ll even throw in some decoder pins and a BB gun. Sure, this isn’t the most typical type of movie set travel, but then again—A Christmas Story isn’t a typical movie.

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Here’s your chance to sleep in ‘A Christmas Story’ house

December 5th, 2013 by Ralphie

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Thirty years after A Christmas Story made the Red Ryder Carbine Action BB Gun, leg lamps and an apple-cheeked kid named Ralphie staples of the holiday season, die-hard fans can bid on a chance to spend two nights at “Ralphie’s house.”

The house, in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood, was featured in exterior shots of the movie, which has become a cult classic, thanks to heavy seasonal rotation on cable. The house was purchased 13 years ago by Brian Jones, who created A Christmas Story House & Museum and hosts an annual convention for fans. (They call themselves Ralphies.)

The house museum features 1940s toys and props and costumes from the movie, along with a newly expanded gift shop selling, among other souvenirs, leg lamps.

As in past years, true fans can bid for a chance to spend two nights in the house. Bidding on eBay runs through Monday and includes a third night at The Renaissance Hotel Cleveland and $800 in extras. Proceeds benefit the neighborhood’s restoration project.

Other A Christmas Story specials: Red Roof Inn’s three Cleveland-area lodgings have “Ralphie Rates” that include admission for two to A Christmas Story House, discounts at its gift shop, and a free appetizer at Bac Chinese Restaurant. Rates start at $89.99.

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30th anniversary celebrated at Ohio home of ‘A Christmas Story’

December 2nd, 2013 by Ralphie

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CLEVELAND – Fans of the 1983 movie “A Christmas Story” still can’t get enough of its quirky humour and heart-warming family theme and are relishing this season’s 30th anniversary celebration.

Hundreds stood in line Saturday to get into the Ohio home in Cleveland, where some of the movie was filmed and 9-year-old Ralphie dreamed of getting an air rifle for Christmas. The story’s 1940s trappings are all there: the iconic leg lamp, a typewriter and globe, a BB gun range in the backyard.

At a hotel in the city’s Public Square, some of the original cast members signed autographs. And thousands were thrilled during the city’s annual winter festival when a gigantic image of a leg lamp was projected onto a tower.

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Oh fudge! Cleveland celebrates 30 years of ‘A Christmas Story’

November 29th, 2013 by Ralphie

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by Rob Lovitt

Forget the pseudo-space travelers with their pointy ears and Worf masks. If you want to experience true fandom, consider a trip to Cleveland this weekend, where several thousand people are expected to gather to celebrate the 30th anniversary of that kitschy classic of holiday cheer and childhood trauma: “A Christmas Story.”

“Star Trek has its trekkies,” says Tyler Schwartz, who may just be the world’s biggest fan of the movie. “’A Christmas Story’ has its Ralphies.”

For those who have never seen the 1983 film, the original Ralphie is Ralphie Parker, the bespectacled 9-year-old who wants nothing for Christmas except a “Red Ryder carbine-action, 200-shot Range Model air rifle.”

His efforts, as told via voiceover by author Jean Shepard, generate the oft-quoted adult response — “You’ll shoot your eye out!” — and form the backdrop for a series of universalchildhood experiences involving tongues and flagpoles, the distasteful consequences of using the “f-dash-dash-dash word” and confrontations with neighborhood bullies and menacing department-store Santas.

A Christmas Story, convention, Cleveland

Courtesy Brian Jones
Fans gather outside the house in Cleveland that served as the main setting for “A Christmas Story.” Thousands are expected to show up this weekend to celebrate the film’s 30th anniversary.

“It’s a delightful take on family dynamics and all the rituals around Christmas,” said Matthew Bernstein, chair of the Department of Film and Media Studies at Emory University. “It’s a much-beloved film that sits alongside ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ ”

So much so, in fact, that the film was one of 10 films named to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry by the National Film Preservation Board last year because they’re considered “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”

Not bad for a movie that received mostly negative reviews when it was released. Rex Reed of the New York Post groused about it being “a silly piece of tinseled fluff” while Ernest Leogrande of the (New York) Daily News dismissed it as “bizarre and boring” and “as real as wax fruit.”

Roger Ebert may have captured its offbeat style best when he described it as “Norman Rockwell filtered through the pages of Mad Magazine or National Lampoon.”

Critics notwithstanding, the movie has since taken on a life of its own. It runs in 24-hour TV marathons (Christmas Eve on TBS); it’s been remade into a stage play and musical; and it’s been credited with creating a cottage industry for leg lamps, pink bunny outfits and other movie-themed collectibles marketed to die-hard fans.

Schwartz, for example, grew up in Toronto watching the film with his family — “I was about Ralphie’s age the first time I saw it” — and became such a fan that he and his soon-to-be-wife Jordie embarked on a two-year adventure back in 2006 to chronicle the film’s original shooting locations in Cleveland and Toronto.

Along the way, they rescued movie props, found long-forgotten costumes and produced a documentary DVD called Road Trip for Ralphie. Now 38, the couple makes a living selling “Christmas kitsch,” including enough Parker-phernalia to outfit a whole horde of Ralphies.

“We’re the Canadian leg of the leg-lamp business,” he said.

But even the Schwartzes may pale in their passion for the movie compared to Brian Jones. Like millions of other fans, Jones also grew up watching the film but he achieved uber-fan status in 2005 when he bought the house in Cleveland that served as the film’s main setting and restored it to its former glory.

Brian Jones, A Christmas Story House & Museum, leg lamp

Scott Meivogel / Positively Cleveland
Brian Jones, a lifelong fan of “A Christmas Story, went from selling leg lamps and other movie collectibles to buying and restoring the house that served as the Parker family home in the classic holiday film.

Today, the house is one-third of complex that includes a gift shop and a museum filled with movie props and other memorabilia. The main attraction, of course, is the house itself, which looks just like it did in the movie, complete with a lopsided Christmas tree and a leg lamp in the window.

“The idea of the house is that you can relive your favorite Christmas movie inside and out,” said Jones.

That’s also the idea behind Friday and Saturday’s 30th anniversary celebration, which will feature tours, theatrical performances and appearances by cast members, including Ian Petrella (Ralphie’s brother Randy), Scott Schwartz (Flick the flagpole-licker) and Zack Ward (aka, neighborhood bully Scut Farkus).

Attendees will also be able to buy signed copies of Tyler Schwartz’ new book, “A Christmas Story Treasury,” attend a charity luncheon — think meatloaf, mashed potatoes and red cabbage — and see if they can avoid shooting an eye out with a genuine Red Ryder BB gun and a target.

All told, Jones expects 4,000 to 5,000 people to attend the weekend festivities, which is certainly a testament to the movie’s continued appeal for both kids and adults.

“It was the first Christmas movie told from a kid’s perspective but the story’s told by an adult looking back,” said Jones. “It’s real life for kids — doing dares, dealing with bullies — but adults can also relate to it.”

The film and the festivities celebrating it also speak to the nature of fandom itself, Bernstein said. “People are proclaiming their affection for the movie but they’re also asserting their identity. To gather and celebrate together; that’s great. I wish I could go.”

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“A Christmas Story” film celebrates its 30th anniversary

November 29th, 2013 by Ralphie

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‘A Christmas Story’ at 30: now part of the family

November 28th, 2013 by Ralphie

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by Thomas J. Sheeran

CLEVELAND — Even after three decades, the triple-dog dare doesn’t get old.

The film “A Christmas Story” opened 30 years ago to mixed reviews but has shown its staying power as a holiday family favorite. Cleveland, where parts of the movie were filmed and hard-luck Ralphie dreamed big, is celebrating the anniversary with iconic leg lamps, holiday store windows like the ones that drew Ralphie’s wide-eyed stares and stage and musical versions of “A Christmas Story.”

“It becomes part of your fabric for your whole life,” said Kevin Moore, managing director of the Cleveland Play House, where the stage version of the story has become a holiday staple.

In the film, starring Darren McGavin as the father, 9-year-old Ralphie was transfixed by the brightly decorated storefront windows. And he dreamed of getting an air rifle as a Christmas gift, despite warnings that he might shoot his eye out.

The plot follows his determined gift-begging, his encounters with bullies and his family’s daily hopes and dreams — including a lamp in the form of a shapely leg.

The Cleveland house where Ralphie’s film family lived will highlight the anniversary Friday and Saturday with appearances by original cast members and a BB gun range in the backyard.

The movie wasn’t widely acclaimed when it debuted, with favorable reviews barely outnumbering bad mentions like the one that grumped, “Bah, humbug” in the headline. But its quirky humor and love-in-family message struck a chord with audiences.

Like any holiday favorite, a sense of wonder is needed for “A Christmas Story” and 8-year-old Colin Wheeler thinks he has one to match Ralphie’s.

“We both have really big imaginations,” boasted Colin, who plays Ralphie in “A Christmas Story” musical at Cleveland’s Near West Theater.

It’s not easy playing Ralphie in that ill-fitting pink bunny suit, Colin said.

“I’ll tell you one thing that’s hard: it’s really hard not to laugh” while wearing that suit, Colin said.

Across town, the Cleveland Play House production of “A Christmas Story” attracts multigenerational audiences of children, parents and grandparents, Moore said.

The appeal in Ralphie’s blue-collar hometown is simple, Moore said. “It’s just a really quirky and yet incredibly sweet story and that resonates with Cleveland,” he said.

The Horseshoe Casino Cleveland has been decorated for the season to highlight the film’s roots in the department store now housing the casino, with leg lamps atop some of the slot machines.

Sheryl Peet, emerging from the casino, said she appreciates the movie and its humor, without regard to its Cleveland connections. “I like it. It’s got comedy, fun, Ralphie,” she said.

At “A Christmas Story” house overlooking humming steel mills, visitors can re-enact movie scenes including ducking under the 1940s-style kitchen sink or looking out the back door where Ralphie trudged through the faux snow.

The movie “snow” was actually mostly firefighting foam, pressed into service amid a cold but rare snowless stretch during filming in winter-hardy Cleveland.

Jim Moralevitz, now 73, lives down the street from “A Christmas Story” house and landed a cameo role in the film helping deliver the crate carrying the leg lamp.

The entrepreneur who developed the house as a tourist attraction, Brian Jones, gave Moralevitz a leg lamp seven years ago and it’s mounted in a 6-foot outdoor Plexiglas box near the peak of the front roof. People sometimes mistake it for “A Christmas Story” house and stop to visit.

In the neighborhood, “I’m known for the most drive-by shootings (filming),” said Moralevitz, a retired tour guide stepping back into his old role for comic effect.

Like many of the best holiday classics, the risky business turns cheerful at the end. Now families get together at holiday gatherings to watch the movie or crowd theater performances.

“It fills up the seats because it’s a family experience,” Moore said.

The anniversary of the movie will be marked beyond Cleveland, with versions on stage from Boston to California. The musical has returned to Broadway for another run.

A new bronze statue of the “triple-dog dare” tongue-grabbing flagpole scene is on display in time for the holidays in Hammond, Ind., hometown of Jean Shepherd, whose stories inspired the 1983 movie. One of the boys in the movie takes the dare and gets his tongue stuck on the icy pole. The Hammond reproduction has become a big hit since it was dedicated in October, with families stopping by to take their Christmas card photos.

But mimicking Hollywood might be risky, according to Nicki Mackowski with the tourist agency in Hammond.

“We’re working on putting up signs as the cold weather gets here. You know: ‘Lick at your own risk’ kind of thing,” she said.

 

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‘A Christmas Story’ house draws tourists in Cleveland

November 27th, 2013 by Ralphie

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by Dan Kane

About 50,000 visitors a year are drawn to an unassuming two-story house on West 11th Street in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood.

Why? It’s Ralphie Parker’s house.

As legions of fans worldwide can tell you, Ralphie is the boy hero of “A Christmas Story,” the beloved holiday film that is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

Shot in Cleveland, the nostalgic 1983 comedy used this 11th Street residence for the home of the Parker family. In 2004, it was bought by a “Christmas Story” fan named Brian Jones, who proceeded to convert it into a tourist attraction.

“Brian restored the house back to its original movie splendor. At the time, it was totally updated with blue vinyl siding and new windows,” said Angela Dickerson, chief of operations for A Christmas Story House and Museum. “He purchased it for $150,000 then spent $250,000 to renovate it back to the way it looked in the movie.”

Since its opening during Thanksgiving weekend in 2006, the house and museum — directly across the street — have wecomed visitors from all 50 states and countries all over the world, including Germany, England, China, Switzerland, Australia, Sweden, Netherlands, Ireland, Mexico and Thailand.

“When you step into the house, you step into the Parker family home from the 1940s,” Dickerson said. “The house is completely interactive. We want them to feel they are in Ralphie’s world. You can climb under the sink, grab the BB gun from behind the desk and put the Lifebuoy soap in your mouth. You can touch and feel everything.”

The accompanying museum has behind-the-scenes photos, costumes and other memorabilia from “A Christmas Story,” including toys from the Higbee Co. display windows, the chalkboard from Mrs. Shields’ classroom and the Parker family car.

Opening Friday in a building next to the museum is a new souvenir shop, expanded from 500 square feet to 3,500. “We have over 300 products related to the movie — leg lamps, bunny suits, BB guns, houseware items, ornaments,” Dickerson said. “Pretty much anything you can think of, we have.”

While there’s an understandable increase in visitors at Christmas time — with 24,000 visitors last December alone — “Summer is actually quite busy for us. We have a lot of out-of-town guests then,” Dickerson said. “We have a map in the museum where you can put a pushpin where you are from. It’s fun to look at the places literally all around the world.”

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SouthPark Mall marks 30th anniversary of the premiere of ‘A Christmas Story’

November 18th, 2013 by Ralphie

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STRONGSVILLE, Ohio – Thirty years to the day after it made its debut in theaters across the country, the movie “A Christmas Story” was once again on the big screen in northeast Ohio.

SouthPark Mall in Strongsville sponsored a special showing of the film to raise money for A Christmas Story House Neighborhood Restoration Project.

Jim Bomba of Old Brooklyn said he’s seen the film thousands of times but never on the big screen. He watches each time for something new.

“I’ll watch things and I’ll see my old high school music teacher conducting the marching band in the Higbee’s opening scene,” he said. “Or, you know, seeing a child in the windows, an extra, and that’s someone I knew growing up.”

While Jim is an expert on all things “A Christmas Story,” Gladys Petrie of Strongsville is not.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen the whole movie at one time,” she said decked out in her Christmas sweater excited to see the film for the first time.

The screening marks the beginning of a busy period marking the 30th anniversary of the film’s release that will include a convention Thanksgiving weekend at Cleveland’s Renaissance, a 5K & 10K run and the opening of the musical “A Christmas Story” at Cleveland’s West Theater, and the play at Cleveland Play House returning after a three-year absence starting Nov. 29.

“The city of Cleveland has embraced us and loved this whole idea so much, it’s fantastic,” said Angela Dickerson, COO of A Christmas Story House and Museum. “We couldn’t ask for anything more.”

 

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A Christmas Story,’ filmed in Cleveland, premiered 30 years ago

November 15th, 2013 by Ralphie

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CLEVELAND – “A Christmas Story” premiered 30 years ago this weekend.

Today it’s a holiday classic but in 1983, it was considered a bit of a flop.

“Basically it was pulled out of theaters in a few weeks,” said Steve Siedlecki, executive director of A Christmas Story House & Museum .

“A Christmas Story” faced stiff competition during that holiday season: “Scarface,” “Silkwood,” “Terms of Endearment” and “Amityville 3-D” were among other films competing for movie dollars that year.

With a budget of $4 million, it took in $16 million in its short run. Flop, you say?

“Nobody was ready for another Christmas movie,” he said. “It got most of its money earned right here in Cleveland from people who wanted to go see it from being filmed here.”

The film, set in Indiana in the forties, chronicles Ralphie Parker’s struggle to get his idea of the perfect Christmas present – a BB gun.

Locations on Public Square , inside the former Higbee’s department store and outside of a home on West 11th and Rowley Avenue (one block south of Clark Avenue) were used in filming.

The flagpole scene outside of a school and the Chinese restaurant were among locations filmed in Ontario, Canada.

The Cleveland winter that year was very mild. Snow-making machines from Boston Mills and Brandywine ski resorts were put into service to make snow. Soap suds were used in some scenes on Public Square to take the place of snow.

The film faced a very short schedule, shot in early 1983 and released in November of the same year.

Director Bob Clark loved the project and wanted to make sure it was made.

“It was his baby,” said Siedlecki. “He really loved the movie. He loved the storyline, so he really tried to get it out there, filmed and released in the same year.”

Actor Peter Billingsley attended the film’s local premiere at the Richmond Theater in Cleveland’s eastern suburbs.

Its introduction to the small screen is where Clark’s creation would make its way into Americana.

“It really wasn’t until it came onto cable television that it really gained its popularity with VHS tape at the time, going on to the cable and eventually the 24-hour marathon,” Siedlecki said.

Turner Broadcasting would run the movie continually for 24 hours on one of its channels each holiday season.

Warner Brothers took advantage of the film’s resurgence to launch a special collection for the film’s 20th anniversary in 2003.

“It takes on a life of its own. Not only do more people want to watch it on TV but it’s become a tradition to come and visit now too,” Siedlecki said.

One of those fans, making a pilgrimage to Cleveland to pay homage to the film, is Patricia King.

“I watch it all day long on Christmas Day and once it starts on Christmas Eve and evening while I’m wrapping presents,” said Patricia King. “I have a DVD and I put that in before it comes on all day.”

King, from Baltimore, visited A Christmas Story House & Museum with her husband. She said she was the envy of her friends and family, many of whom wanted her to buy items at the museum’s store.

Brian Jones, from San Diego, bought the house used for exteriors of the movie and opened it for tours in 2006.

The home was renovated to mimic the interior scenes from the movie.

Siedlecki said the Tremont neighborhood attraction employs as many as 25 people in peak seasons with almost the same number working in a nearby warehouse handling orders for merchandise, such as the famous leg lamp.

“Thousands and thousands of movies have been released, but to be able to go and see where that movie was filmed and visit its museum is a very unique experience.”

A new expanded gift shop, across from the Parkers fictional home, opened three months ago.

Last August, the “Christmas Story” complex of museum, store and home began a new schedule, now open seven days a week.

A Christmas Story Convention will take place at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Cleveland Thanksgiving weekend.

The following weekend, the Christmas Story 5K/10K run will take place. Runners will run to the house and to locations from the movie. Participants are asked to dress as their favorite character from the movie. The race takes place Saturday, Dec. 7 at 9 a.m.

Tours of the home are scheduled every 30 minutes

Read more: http://www.newsnet5.com/dpp/entertainment/a-christmas-story-filmed-in-cleveland-premiered-30-years-ago#ixzz2l0pWVIew

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“A Christmas Story” House & Museum Celebrates 30 Years

November 11th, 2013 by Ralphie

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“You’ll shoot your eye out!”

Well maybe not your eye, but possibly your feet as you run in the first-ever “A Christmas Story” 5K/10K race on Saturday, December 7 in Cleveland, Ohio — in the city that is home to the actual house the classic movie was filmed in.

The race, which features a run to the home where the movie was filmed, helps commemorate the 30th anniversary of the iconic film. Three decades later, the film has established an almost cult-like following of fans. The sale of the original house on eBay to a fan led to the restoration and the creation of the “A Christmas Story” House & Museum in 2006.

Each year thousands visit the home and museum to have a glimpse of that famous leg lamp (the original lamps used in the movie all were shattered during filming). They can also see the bathroom where star character Ralphie, played by Peter Billingsley, had his mouth washed out with soap. And catch a glimpse of the Red Ryder BB Gun wrapped and ready for Ralphie to find on Christmas morning.

In addition to the house and museum, there is also a gift shop on site. The “A Christmas Story” House and Museum is open year-round but gains special attention during the holiday season. Hours of operation along with ticket prices and tour times are available online. Street parking is free of charge.

Registration for the 5K/10K race runs through December 4, 2013. For more details on the race that will take you down “A Christmas Story” memory lane, visit the event online. Additional events to help commemorate the 30th anniversary of the film include a Blu-ray and DVD release and a special convention on November 29 and 30.

The convention will feature a variety of “A Christmas Story”-themed events and appearances by members of the original cast! There will also be an auction for an exciting VIP package that includes a stay in the actual house from the movie!

The original Higbee’s department store, also used in filming of the movie, has been home to downtown Cleveland’s own tourism bureau, Positively Cleveland, since 2007. So stop by and step through those same doors Ralphie did on his way to visit Santa Claus – and pick up some visitor guides to help you seek out attractions during your remaining stay in Cleveland!

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