This is the story of the “A Christmas Story” house, a trip we have to call “not so nerdy” because this movie is such a part of pop culture. An enterprising fan bought the house in Cleveland where the movie was made, and now thousands of people pay to visit it each year, including my friend Nancy and me in the fall of 2010.
It is really amazing to see what has grown out of the simple story of Ralphie who wants a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas, and everyone who keeps telling him, “You’ll shoot your eye out.”
There is now a “Christmas Story” empire, which includes the house and museum, conventions and products ranging from magnets and mugs to t-shirts, dolls, costumes and, of course, your very own leg lamp! The gift shop itself is a marvel of merchandising!
While crews filmed much of the movie’s exteriors in the Cleveland area (the setting of the movie itself is actually Indiana), movie makers shot the interior house scenes on a sound stage. The man who bought the original house for its cinematic connection rebuilt the interior to match the movie – and it does! (Unlike our discovery at the real Southfork).
I think there were about 30 people on our tour, and tours left every half-hour. When I called this December to ask how large the tours could be, they said it was so busy that they were doing self-guided tours in groups of 10 or 20 at a time. Maybe going in October was a smart strategy!
Our guide was very enthusiastic, sharing insider movie secrets, such as issues with the fake snow and why the leg lamp box says “his end up.” (If I remember correctly, I think they said the box was too big to fit through the door, so they sliced off part of it).
You can see the recreated bathroom where Ralphie’s mom washes out his mouth with soap or you can climb under the sink where his brother Randy hid. All over the house, you’ll see small touches referencing the movie, some of which I probably missed since the movie’s details were not fresh in my mind.
Here’s the side of the house, where Ralphie claimed an icicle fell and broke his glasses. As someone who lived in the Cleveland area for six years, I can verify that some of those houses develop amazingly long icicles, so Ralphie’s explanation is entirely plausible!
This year, this holiday movie classic celebrates its 30th anniversary. I discovered some Christmas Story merchandise all the way in Maryland with this “A Christmas Story” fudge. I can’t vouch for the taste, I only took a picture. And, then I failed to grasp immediately why the phrase “Oh Fudge” was important in the movie!
I guess I need to find some time to watch “A Christmas Story” this year. This holiday season, I hope you and your family have some time to enjoy a holiday movie, sample some fudge and share your favorite stories, nerdy or not. Happy Holidays!
P.S. Remember the “On the Map” page has more details that can help you plan a trip to the “Christmas Story” house.
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