December 25, 2012 by Amanda
If you grew up in the United States like I did (or perhaps even if you’ve just spent a Christmas or two here), chances are you’ve been pulled in by the 24-hour movie marathons of a certain holiday classic about a certain midwestern boy who wants nothing more than a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas.
It’s just not the holidays without “A Christmas Story.” Without Ralphie in his pink bunny outfit. Without randy in his snowsuit. Without the Old Man and his “major award.” Without the dogs eating the Christmas turkey. Without the good old “You’ll shot your eye out” mantra.
If you have no clue what I’m talking about, go and find a copy of this 1983 classic and watch it. Right now. I’ll wait.
For those of you who ARE familiar with “A Christmas Story,” did you know that you can actually visit the house where parts of the movie were filmed?
The house (which was used mostly for exterior shots, since the indoor scenes were filmed on a soundstage in Canada) is located in Cleveland, Ohio, despite the fact that the movie is set in a fictional town in Indiana.
In 2004, long-time fan Brian Jones bought the Cleveland house at 3159 W. 11th Street on eBay. Jones had been running a leg lamp company from his home in San Diego, and paid $150,000 for the house, sight unseen. Unluckily for him, the house was falling apart in a neighborhood where homes were selling for less than $40,000.
But Jones decided he was going to make something of this piece of Americana. He spent $240,000 more to gut the house and turn it into a replica of the Parkers’ home from “A Christmas Story.” The house opened to visitors in 2006, and has been drawing a steady stream of fans ever since.
These days, $10 will get you into the house as well as the “A Christmas Story” Museum directly across the street where you can see props and photos from the movie (including Randy’s snowsuit). There’s also a gift shop where you can purchase your own “major award” along with other souvenirs (just be careful, because they are fra-gee-lay).
In the house, you can:
Pose with Mr. Parker’s “major award”:
Bite down on some Life Buoy soap in the bathroom:
Hide under the sink in the kitchen like Randy did when he was convinced Mr. Parker was going to kill Ralphie:
Before getting to wander around the house, an employee gives a brief introduction, sharing some fun facts about “A Christmas Story,” the house, and why Cleveland was chosen as a filming location.
You’ll learn that:
- The film was based on a collection of short stories by Jean Shepherd about growing up in Indiana in the 30s and 40s. Director Bob Clark heard snippets of these stories on the radio in 1960, and immediately thought they’d make a great film. It would take more than 20 years for his idea to come to fruition, however.
- Clark is best known for directing “Porky’s” in 1981 — think “American Pie,” but in the 80s.
- Cleveland was chosen as one of the major filming locations because of the department store Higbee’s, which agreed to keep its Christmas decorations up for a few extra months and allow Clark and his crew to come in and film there.
- “A Christmas Story” did not do very well at the box office when it was released in November of 1983. It was up against hits like “Scarface” and disappeared from most screens before Christmas Day.
- The movie became popular through those 24-hour movie marathons we all know and love, the first of which took place in 1988. Warner Brothers got the rights to the film from MGM in 1986 in a bundle of 50 movies, and tried the marathon as a stunt. It has since become a holiday tradition.
Today, “A Christmas Story” ranks up there with “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th Street” as Christmas classics for most Americans. In fact, the film is even being added to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry this year, which consists of “cinematic treasures” that “represent important cultural, artistic and historic achievements in filmmaking.”
Not bad for a movie that’s been made famous through 24-hour movie marathons.
It should be no surprise then that opening up the Cleveland house to fans has proven popular. The day I was there (a Wednesday afternoon the week before Christmas), the house was packed. The afternoon tour I went on had at least 30-40 people on it, all intent on taking a photo with the leg lamp in the window. Who would have thought?
If you’re a “Christmas Story” fan and ever find yourself in Cleveland, definitely visit this place. It’s a must for any kid who grew up watching this movie!
If you go…
- The house is located at 3159 W. 11th St., Cleveland, OH 44109
- Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $6 for children 7-12, and free for children 6 and under. Tickets are good for both the house and museum.
- The house is open year-round: Thurs.-Sat. 10 am-5 pm and Sunday noon-5 pm (holiday hours are extended).
- Check out www.achristmasstoryhouse.com for more info.
Are you a fan of “A Christmas Story”? Would you want to visit the house in Cleveland?