Ralphie’s pals coming to Cleveland

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Can “A Christmas Story” really be 25 years old?

Scott Schwartz (Flick) gets stuck to a flagpole; Peter Billingsley (Ralphie) looks on.

The iconic 1983 holiday film about Ralphie Parker and his dream of getting a Red Ryder BB gun from Santa is marking a big anniversary this month.

At the “A Christmas Story” House & Museum in Cleveland, a celebration Nov. 28-29 will feature a reunion of the cast, including Scott Schwartz, who played Flick, the kid who got his tongue stuck to the flagpole, and Ian Petrella, who played Ralphie’s little brother Randy.

“People don’t realize the movie is 25 years old,” says Steve Siedlecki, executive director of the museum. “It’s only been popular for 10 years or so, when they started showing it on television.”

35,000 fans

Even if you can’t make the party Nov. 28, you can visit the house anytime. (Cleveland is just a three-hour drive from Detroit.)

The plain, clapboard two-story home was used for all the exterior shots in the movie. Now, it’s a lovingly restored museum containing “A Christmas Story” props, costumes, memorabilia and photos.

Purchased in 2004 by “A Christmas Story” fan Brian Jones, the house has been restored to the yellow-with-green-trim color it had in the film. Jones opened it as a museum in November 2006.

The gift shop across the street sells everything from leg lamps to decoder pins to talking Ralphie dolls.

About 35,000 people visit per year, Siedlecki says.

Marathon movie

“A Christmas Story” premiered on Thanksgiving 1983. It starred Peter Billingsley as Ralphie Parker, the boy whose greatest Christmas wish was a Red Ryder BB Gun. His dad was played by the late Darren McGavin. Cleveland was chosen for part of the filming, director Bob Clark said, because it most resembled 1940s Indiana.

Like Trekkies, the most avid fans of “A Christmas Story” have a nickname, too — Ralphies. That could include many Americans: when TNT runs its “A Christmas Story” marathon each year, an estimated 40 million people tune in at least once.

The museum and house are at 3159 W. Eleventh Street in Cleveland. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and noon -5 p.m. Sundays. From Nov. 26-Dec. 31, the house also is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays for the holiday crowds.

Admission is $7.50 for adults, $6.50 for seniors, $5.50 for children ages 7-12 and free for younger children.

For the celebration Nov. 28-29, a $40 “Ralphie Pass” can get you into most events, “but if you just want to meet and greet the actors, that’s $10,” Siedlecki says.

For more, see www.achristmasstoryhouse.com or call 216-298-4919.

And be sure to drink your Ovaltine.

Contact ELLEN CREAGER at 313-222-6498 or ecreager@freepress.com.


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