November 2013 Issue
Celebrate “A Christmas Story” at the house named for the move.
One of Brian Jones’ most treasured holiday memories is watching “A Christmas Story” with his parents. Never mind that the movie’s Midwest winter setting was miles away from his California home. Never mind that his coveted gift was a puppy, rather than the air rifle 9-year-old Ralphie Parker hoped to receive in the film. And never mind that the movie’s time frame took place more than 30 years before Jones was born.
“ ‘A Christmas Story’ is endearing and funny at the same time, which is a hard combination to get,” Jones, 37, explains. “Who hasn’t been picked on in the schoolyard and fought back? Who hasn’t gotten in trouble with their parents? It has a very human touch that connects with everybody.”
So in 2004, when the Cleveland house featured in the 1983 movie came up for sale on eBay, Jones just had to have it. Bids for the house started at $99,999. Jones sealed the deal by offering $150,000.
His goal: To create a setting that would replicate the Parker family home and build a museum and gift shop the film’s fans would love.
Nine years later, Jones’ hopes have far exceeded his wildest expectations: More than 50,000 visitors each year make a pilgrimage to Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood to visit A Christmas Story House. Jones has restored the home with meticulous care, right down to the kitchen stove, claw-foot bathtub and Kerman Persian carpeting that reflect the period in which the movie takes place.
The museum across the street, filled with original props, costumes and movie memorabilia, has also become a mecca for sightseers. And so has the gift shop next door, where ornaments, T-shirts and leg lamps fly off the shelves faster than you can say, “Fra-gee-lay.”
To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the movie’s release, a variety of events will take place in Cleveland this month and next. Here’s a sampling:
Nov. 15–Dec. 8: Cleveland’s Near West Theatre presents “A Christmas Story: The Musical,” the Tony Award-nominated play based on the movie and stories by humorist Jean Shepherd. For tickets and more information, call 216/961-6391 or visit nearwesttheatre.org.
Nov. 29–Dec. 22: The Cleveland Play House stages the play, “A Christmas Story,” based on the film. For tickets and more information, call 216/241-6000 or visit clevelandplayhouse.com.
Nov. 29–30: The 30th Anniversary Celebration of “A Christmas Story” at The Renaissance Cleveland Hotel includes appearances by cast members, autograph signings, tours of A Christmas Story House & Museum and a bb-gun range. For more information, call 216/255-6651 or visit achristmasstoryhouse.com.
Nov. 30: Mrs. Parker’s Little Piggy Luncheon at The Renaissance Cleveland Hotel features meatloaf, mashed potatoes and red cabbage (the meal Randy chowed down on with gusto) and appearances by cast members from the movie. For more information, call 216/255-6651 or visit achristmasstoryhouse.com.
A CHRISTMAS STORY HOUSE
Dec. 7: “A Christmas Story” Run 5K/10K begins at 9 a.m. on downtown Cleveland's Public Square. The family-friendly event is designed for all skill levels. Participate in the 5K run to A Christmas Story House & Museum and be transported back to Public Square on Lolly the Trolley, or opt for the 10K run to the house and back to Public Square. A 1-mile Leg Lamp Fun Run for children and families will start and finish at Public Square. Runners are encouraged to dress in costumes that portray scenes and characters from the movie. For more information, call 216-255-6651 or visit achristmasstoryhouse.com.
WHEN YOU GO
3159 W. 11th St, Cleveland, 44109
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m. (except major holidays)
Admission: $10 adults, $8 seniors, $6 children ages 7-12
READ ALL ABOUT IT
To celebrate three decades of “A Christmas Story” cheer —and just in time for holiday gift giving — come two new books about the movie:
A Christmas Story: Behind the Scenes of a Holiday Classic by Caseen Gaines explores the inside story of the film’s production, release and iconic place in pop culture. The volume is packed with previously unreleased photos and interviews with cast and crew. (ECW Press, hardbound, $29.95)
A Christmas Story Treasury by Tyler Schwartz features sound buttons of eight memorable quotes from film narrator Jean Shepherd, a certificate of membership to the Little Orphan Annie Secret Circle, a movie poster and behind-the-scenes stories and photos. (Running Press, $24.95)