by Aaron Homer
If you’re a fan of the 1983 holiday classic A Christmas Story, do yourself a favor and head to Cleveland this Christmas season to check out the Christmas Story House and museum. The Cleveland home that served as the scene of the exterior shots of Ralphie Parker’s home has been painstakingly restored and redecorated to mimic the mood of the movie, and has now become a tourist attraction.
You may remember that in A Christmas Story, Ralphie Parker and his family live in the house on “Cleveland Street” in “Hohman,” Indiana, and much of the action in the movie takes place inside and outside the house. Back in 1982, the producers of A Christmas Storyneeded a house to stand in for Ralphie’s childhood home, and they found just what they needed in Cleveland. They shot a few exterior scenes at the home and around the neighborhood (interior scenes were filmed on sound stages, and not inside the Cleveland house), then packed up and went on to other cities (mostly Toronto) for other exterior shots.
Once crews left, the house went back to being just that – a house where people lived, on a city street with other houses where people lived. At some point along the way, the yellow and green paint scheme gave way to a more modern scheme, and the house’s connection to the movie was all but forgotten.
That is, until San Diego businessman Brian Jones bought the house in 2004. Jones, a huge fan of the 1983 movie, set about to restoring the house to its A Christmas Story glory. He brought back the paint scheme from the movie (replacing the old windows with more energy-efficient, modern ones), then, watching the 1983 movie frame-by-frame, gutted the interior of the home and turned it into an exact recreation of the Parker family home, complete with early-century plumbing, furniture, decorating, the whole bit. Walking inside, you’d think you could turn around and find Randy or The Old Man standing behind you.
“Among the props and costumes are the toys from the Higbee’s window, Randy’s snowsuit, the chalkboard from Miss Shields’ classroom and the family car.”
The Christmas Story House and Museum are open year-round, but of course, Christmas time is the absolute best time of the year to visit – that is, if you don’t mind waiting outside in long lines in Cleveland winter weather. In fact, if you’ve got a lot of money to blow on your A Christmas Story fandom, you can bid on the chance to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at the home, and pretend you’re Ralphie Parker. You and three guests will get two nights in the home, $800 worth of gifts from the gift shop (including a Major Award leg lamp and pink bunny suit), and basket of other swag. Proceeds will go to the A Christmas Story Foundation – a charity set up to help return the surrounding neighborhood, which has seen better days, to its former glory.
Tickets to the A Christmas Story House and museum are $11 for adults, $7 for children 3-13. Children under three are admitted for free. Your admission price includes a guided tour of the house as well as admission to the museum across the street. The house and museum are open 10am to 5pm seven days per week, 365 days per year.