Friday, June 16, 2017

Day 221 A Christmas Story (movie) House- Cleveland, Ohio–Follow Your Dreams

A Christmas Story House, restored in Cleveland, Ohio
It's a Christmas tradition for my son and I to watch the the 1983 iconic movie, A Christmas Story, that takes place on Cleveland street, Indiana in the 1940’s (see Day 178-A Christmas Story the Musical).  We laugh every  year at  Ralphie’s quest for a Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred  shot BB gun for Christmas and his dad’s  acquisition of the “major award” leg lamp. I recently learned that  the home  used in the filming of this movie has been  renovated  to look just  like it did in the film, has a museum of the movie props, provides tours, and  even offers overnight stays if you want the real experience.  You can find the Christmas Story House  a few hours from Pittsburgh in Cleveland Ohio. I was off to see this place, learn more about one of my favorite films, and maybe  even pick up a “major award” (leg Lamp) for my son!

I think I'll get my son a "major award" at the Gift Shop

The house sure looks just like the one in the movie! As you tour, all the famous movie scenes pop back into your head. Everyone on the tour seemed  so  excited to see their  favorite part of the house and remembering their favorite part of the movie like: the kitchen where the dogs stole the turkey; the bathroom where Ralphie’s mouth was washed out with soap; and of course the living room with the Red Ryder BB gun under the Christmas tree. The tour is  interactive and you’re encouraged to sit on the furniture and pick up any of the props. Everyone seemed to enjoy running around the house taking pictures and acting out parts of the movie!

Kitchen were the Christmas Eve turkey was taken by the dogs 

My tour guide, Gary, was very knowledgeable sharing interesting facts about the movie, actors, and home owner.  The movie was a flop in 1983 and was given to Ted Turner for his new classic movie cable station.  Turner  then  started playing the movie as a  24 hour Christmas Eve marathon making  it  the “classic” hit that it is today. Yes my son and I are one of those people who watch it every year thanks to Ted Turner who is probably laughing all the way to the bank (interestingly none of the actors have royalty rights to the movie).

Scene from movie, outside the house 

You learn all kinds of tidbits about the movie. The box that held the leg lamp had to be cut to fit through the door.  Any movie  scene with the “T” cut off of  “This end up” on the box was filmed in the house and with the “T” in the studio. They used a suction device for the scene where Ralphie’s friend’s tongue gets stuck to the flag pole and potato flakes were used for the snow in the movie. Also the  movie was filmed  in Cleveland  because Higbee’s Department Story (featured in three scenes in the movie) was the only store that agreed  to permit  the director to construct  the huge Santa  snow mountain  that is part of the film. The store continued to  put up the Christmas display every year  thereafter  until  it closed.  Cleveland’s casino now occupies the place that used to be   Higbee’s Department  Store.  
Ralphie got the soap treatment here

Cut off "T" to fit through the door 

In 2004, the current owner, Brian Jones, bought the home on E-bay for  $150,000, which was an exorbitant   amount for the neighborhood and the home’s disrepair.  Mr. Jones  had a vision to open the home to the public.  His love for the movie  began  when he received his first leg lamp as a joke in the service.  His fellow service men all wanted  a lamp, so he  started his own company, “The Red Rider Lamp Company” making the lamps in his basement.  He used  the equity in  his company to support the  $250,000 needed for the  home restorations  because he had a dream, and at $16.00 a tour, and with 80,000 visitors  a year, he has joined  Ted Turner at the bank!

You'll Shoot your eye out

(The home, the museum across the street and the gift shop where you can get all the iconic props, is open to the public year-round.) 

Other Sources
A Christmas Story House
Way You Watch A Christmas story