‘A Christmas Story’ in Cleveland: The full tour, from the house to the donuts, 5K, beer, play and more

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by Laura Demarco

CLEVELAND, Ohio – “A Christmas Story” has become a “A Cleveland Story” in the last decade.

Since the opening of “A Christmas Story” House and Museum on West 11th Street in 2006, interest in the 1983 holiday classic filmed in our city has fueled a rise in local and national tourism. It’s not just the multimillion dollar Rock Hall and art museum and Browns bringing people and the spotlight to town anymore: this homespun, DIY museum has become one of the city’s top draws.

But the house is far from Cleveland’s only nod to the nostalgic tale about the Parker family’s pre-World War II Christmas, based on the memoirs of Jean Shepherd’s youth in Hammond, Indiana. Nowhere is Bob Clark’s holiday film starring Peter Billingsley, Darren McGavin and Melinda Dillon more celebrated than in Cleveland, where much of the movie was filmed.

Shepherd’s tale of young Ralphie’s dream of getting his very own official Red Ryder carbine-action, 200-shot Range Model air rifle has also inspired stage productions and donuts and a 5K and dinner parties and candy and even a beer.

Laura DeMarco, The Plain Dealer

When the century home on West 11th Street used in the filming opened its doors as a museum on Nov. 25, 2006, no one could have guessed what an impact it would have on the city. The house restored by “Christmas Story”-superfan Brian Jones almost singlehandedly helped establish ACS tourism as a cottage industry in Cleveland. This past year has brought more than 90,000 fans to the house down West 11th Street, with the guest house on the top floor reserved a year in advance.

“It’s definitely unique, there’s nothing else like it – anywhere,” says Jones. “ In a lot of cities, you just see the same stuff. This definitely adds to Cleveland’s coolness. Plus, it’s just down a street in a neighborhood, I don’t think most cities would allow that or it would happen in many places.”

Jones says that Cleveland’s increasing popularity has also helped draw attention to the house.

“Cleveland has gotten more popular in general,” he says. “So the house has gotten more popular as people tell their friend ‘you’ve gotta go to Cleveland and see this!”

It’s not just the house you’ve got to see. Read on for a guide to the full “A Christmas Story” Cleveland experience.

Laura DeMarco

‘A Christmas Story’ House and Museum

Ground zero for ACS fans, this humble home at the far end of Tremont has become one of Cleveland’s top tourist attractions. This time of year, fans are lining up down the street. And for good reason. Purchased by fan Brian Jones in 2006 and restored to its full cinematic glory, it provides the full Parker family experience. Downstairs in the vintage house, visitors are greeted by the Parkers’ decorated tree and the sink where Randy hid. And, of course the glorious leg lamp in the front window. Upstairs, guests can tour the bedrooms and bathroom – and check out Ralphie’s decoder ring AND a bar of Lifebuoy soap. All that’s missing is Ralphie and his gun. Wait, is that it behind the tree? Across the street, the fascinating museum features rare memorabilia including film costumes and props, articles about the making of the film and even Miss Shields’ chalkboard. And the gift shop has anything an ACS fan could ever want, from Pink Nightmare PJs to Red Ryders to posters, Lifebuoy soap, slippers, clothing and much more. 3159 West 11th St., Cleveland; 216-298-4919. Open year round, with extended holiday hours. Call 216- 298-4919 or see https://www.achristmasstoryhouse.com/hours-and-admission/ for December schedule. Closed Christmas Day. Admission, $10 – $13.

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‘A Christmas Talk’ at the Music Box

Join Brian Jones for a Cleveland Dinner Parties talk at the Music Box, 1148 Main Avenue, Cleveland, on Wednesday, Dec. 11. Jones will share stories about his love for the film, why he bought the house and what’s next for the neighborhood. Doors open at 5 p.m., talk starts at 7. The themed dinner for the evening includes cabbage stew, ‘Bumpkiss Hound’ and pumpkin pie (the regular menu will also be served, and no food purchase necessary). Free, but reservations required: http://www.musicboxcle.com/event/brian-jones/

Bob Migra, The Plain Dealer

‘A Christmas Story’ Run

Registration is closed for the 7th annual  A Christmas Story 5K/10K Run at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 7. But you can still go watch – and what a site to see 6,000 Clevelanders running through downtown Cleveland dressed in Pink Nightmare pajamas, as Leg Lamps, Bumpus Hounds and Santa. This year the race will feature a 22-foot inflatable leg lamp. The route begins at Public Square, goes to the Christmas Story House (for the 5K) and then back to Public Square for the 10K. It is one of the main fundraisers the ACS House does for their neighborhood grant program, which has led to the renovation of several houses on the street in just the last year. “We want to give back to the neighborhood,” says Jones.

Laura DeMarco, The Plain Dealer: Brian Jones outside the Bumpus House

Bumpus House

When house next door to the Christmas Story House & Museum on West 11th Street in Tremont came up for sale last year, ACS House owner Brian Jones had an idea: he’d buy the house and convert it into a 1940s-themed Bumpus House guest house. What better place to spend a night before Christmas? The “Stolen Turkey” suite, which encompasses the second and third floors, will sleep up to six guests. Both include kitchenette and full baths. Guests can also rent the entire house. Rates for the rest of the year start at $295 per night. Admission to A Christmas Story House & Museum is included with each rental. . Overnights next door in the ACS house are booked for the year, but a few nights are available in the Bumpus House. Reservations: https://www.achristmasstoryhouse.com/bumpus-house/

Roger Mastroianni

‘A Christmas Story’ on stage

The Cleveland Play House’s adaptation of ‘A Christmas Story’ -the most popular show in Play House history — is a nostalgic trip down memory lane that takes equal parts from the movie and Jean Shepard’s writings. Old Man Christopher Gerson returns this year, with Anjanette Hall stepping into the role of Mother. Ezra Bernstein is making his Play House debut as Ralphie. The Play House’s production stays true to the nostalgic essence of the film by boiling it down to several key moments and two key threads: Ralphie’s dreams of his Red Ryder air rifle and the narrator’s melancholic dreams of his lost childhood. Allen Theatre in Playhouse Square, through Dec. 23. $20 – $80 at clevelandplayhouse.com or 216-241-6000. Want an even more festive night? Join the Play House for a ‘Christmas story’ inspired dinner at the Hermit Club in the Hofbräuhaus with Ralphie on Dec. 5 and 12. It includes a themed menu of Chinese food and a Red Ryder drink.  Adults, $75; Children under $18, $35; family pack $199.

Laura DeMarco, The Plain Dealer

Jack Frost Donuts

Oh Fudge! Jack Frost Donuts has added another level of sweetness to all things ACS in Cleveland. Once again, they’ve created a new Christmas Story-themed cake, this year it’s called the Oh Fudge!, a fry cake topped with raised chocolate icing and a piece of fudge. This will be for sale along with their annual Secret Decoder chocolate-iced donut, “Soap” donut with red and white icing, cream-filled pink-and-white iced Pink Nightmare, Leg Lamp and Ovaltine donuts. Donuts are $1.95 each, or $15.95 a dozen,  available through Dec. 26. Jack Frost Donuts is at 4960 Pearl Road, Cleveland. Orders can be placed ahead by calling 216-351-3638.

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A Christmas Story Dinner & Party

Touch Supper Club hosts an all-things ACS dinner party on Saturday, Dec. 14. The night will begin with a dinner featuring Peking duck, Lo Mein noodles, miso soup & wine. This special menu, in addition to our regular dinner menu, will be available all night, but reservations are recommended. Following the dinner at 10 p.m., guests are invited to stay for the Party featuring music by DJs Go & Impure (upstairs). Downstairs will feature our annual Prince themed dance party called a Purple Christmas: All Prince, All Night. 2710 Lorain Ave, Cleveland, 216-631-5200

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Great Lakes Brewery’s Tripel Dog Dare

Christmas Ale isn’t the only GLBC seasonal brew. Tripel Dog Dare – “Inspired by the rabble-rouser and mischief-maker in all of us, Tripel Dog Dare is a bratty little instigator,” says Great Lakes of 9.5 percent alcohol Belgian-style Tripel beer. C’mon, I dare ya …

John Petkovic, The Plain Dealer

Window Shopping

Thanks to “A Christmas Story,” the ghosts of Cleveland’s past live on forever – even at Public Square. The site of the Christmas parade scene looks far different today and Higbee’s is now a casino, but the store that played such an important role on- and off-screen in the history of “A Christmas Story” comes alive again for the holidays. In the spirit of Higbees, JACK Cleveland Casino will yet again be decorating the display windows that line Prospect, Ontario and Public Square. This year’s windows will be decorated in an Enchanted Winterland theme by 15 local Cleveland businesses and organizations including Destination Cleveland, Cleveland Metro Parks, the Cleveland Browns, the Cleveland Cavaliers, A Christmas Story House, Western Reserve Historical Society and others. The windows will remain up until the New Year.

Warner Brothers

Christmas Eve marathon

What would Christmas Eve be without the ACS marathon? BO-ring. Turn to TBS at 8 p.m. Dec. 24, and let the fun begin.

Warner Brothers

A musical ‘Christmas Story’

The Medina County ShowBiz company has adapted ‘A Christmas Story’ into a musical. The upbeat production will run Dec. 6 – 15 at the Haddad Theatre, 144 N. Broadway. More info and tickets: (http://www.medinashowbiz.org).

Chuck Crow, The Plain Dealer


Medina’s McJak candy shop is officially licensed to make “A Christmas Story”-themed fudge. Pick up a box in the museum gift shop or online at https://www.mcjakcandy.com/. Comes in chocolate and chocolate walnut .

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