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Christmas story


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The San Francisco Chronicle recently featured an article about the recreation of the house from A Christmas Story; it's Cleveland's newest tourist attraction. Brian Jones bought the house in February 2005 and poured his heart -- not to mention $240,000 -- into renovating it to make it resemble the house in the movie. He's opened it for tours and has created a gift shop and a small museum in another house across the street.


In reality, A Christmas Story House is only part of what viewers remember as the Parkers' home, the place where Ralphie schemed to get a Red Ryder BB gun. It's really the house's exterior that stars in the film; most interior shots were filmed on a set. The house is in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood, and is instantly recognizable to fans of the movie, thanks to the meticulous restoration of the exterior and the iconic leg lamp glowing in the window. ICI Paints matched the exterior paint colors, so the yellow siding and green trim wear the precise shades they did in the 1983 movie.


Inside, the match is less exact. Although the set was designed to roughly fit the house's general footprint, the rooms were bigger and the set had features the real house lacked -- a dining room, for example, and a staircase with two landings.


So Jones hired a contractor recommended to him by the Cleveland Restoration Society, to renovate what had been a duplex and make it resemble more closely the interior of the Parker home. It's more a suggestion of the movie set than a replica, but they took pains to re-create it as faithfully as possible.


The construction crew took out a first-floor bedroom and cut a hole in the ceiling to put in the stairs, and a fake fireplace was installed to mimic the one in the movie. A bathroom was gutted to allow for widening the kitchen, which is outfitted with a brown-painted wainscot, the same model of White Star stove that appears in the movie and a sink with doors below, just like the ones Ralphie's brother, Randy, hid behind. The crew even cut the 12-inch-square, brown-and-white linoleum floor tiles down to 9 inches to match what would have been available at the time the movie was set, around 1940.


The house is gradually being furnished, largely with donations from fans. Someone even ponied up a spherical silver shot-glass set, just like the one that sits atop the Parkers' floor radio.


He's convinced his investment will pay off. ?Fans flock to the setting of Field of Dreams, and that's out in a cornfield in Iowa,'' he said.


Jones also bought a house across the street to serve as a ticket-sales center, gift shop (they don?t sell BB guns) and museum. Here visitors can browse a collection of A Christmas Story' memorabilia that includes Randy's snowsuit and toy zeppelin (whoopee!), a reproduction Red Ryder BB gun with a compass and sundial in the stock, photos snapped during filming by neighbors and actors, and framed reviews of the movie, not all of them complimentary. A display of blooper scenes points out such goofs as the visible trampoline that boosted Black Bart over the backyard fence and the dual flagpoles that appear in the movie, one in the front of the school, one in the back.


Oh, and they have a website: http://www.achristmasstoryhouse.com/

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Hey, Jack, that's pretty cool that the San Francisco Chronicle had a feature about the Christmas Story house! It's about 20 minutes from where I live, but I haven't been out to see it yet.


A regular customer at the video store where I used to work was one of the local actors featured in the film--she's the female "elf" with Santa in the department store scene that says, "Get goin', kid!" Sadly, Higbee's department store in downtown Cleveland where they filmed the exteriors is now closed. I used to love going there to do Christmas shopping--a Cleveland tradition now gone.


Sandy K

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