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dec5homespunweb.jpgBy Ellen Creager

RISMEDIA, Dec. 5, 2008-Can “A Christmas Story” really be 25 years old? The iconic 1983 holiday film about Ralphie Parker and his dream of getting a Red Ryder BB gun from Santa marked a big anniversary last month.

At the “A Christmas Story” House & Museum in Cleveland, a celebration Nov. 28-29 featured a reunion of the cast, including Scott Schwartz, who played Flick, the kid who got his tongue stuck to the flagpole, and Ian Petrella, who played Ralphie’s little brother Randy.

“People don’t realize the movie is 25 years old,” says Steve Siedlecki, executive director of the museum. “It’s only been popular for 10 years or so, when they started showing it on television.”

Even if you didn’t make the party, you can visit the house anytime.

The plain, clapboard two-story home was used for all the exterior shots in the movie. Now, it’s a lovingly restored museum containing “A Christmas Story” props, costumes, memorabilia and photos.

Purchased in 2004 by “A Christmas Story” fan Brian Jones, the house has been restored to the yellow-with-green-trim color it had in the film. Jones opened it as a museum in November 2006.

The gift shop across the street sells everything from leg lamps to decoder pins to talking Ralphie dolls.

About 35,000 people visit per year, Siedlecki says.

“A Christmas Story” premiered on Thanksgiving 1983. It starred Peter Billingsley as Ralphie Parker, the boy whose greatest Christmas wish was a Red Ryder BB Gun. His dad was played by the late Darren McGavin. Cleveland was chosen for part of the filming, director Bob Clark said, because it most resembled 1940s Indiana.

Like Trekkies, the most avid fans of “A Christmas Story” have a nickname, too _ Ralphies. That could include many Americans: When TNT runs its “A Christmas Story” marathon each year, an estimated 40 million people tune in at least once.

The museum and house are at 3159 W. Eleventh Street in Cleveland. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and noon -5 p.m. Sundays. From Nov. 26-Dec. 31, the house also is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays for the holiday crowds.

Admission is $7.50 for adults, $6.50 for seniors, $5.50 for children ages 7-12 and free for younger children.

For more, see www.achristmasstoryhouse.com or call 216-298-4919

And be sure to drink your Ovaltine.

© 2008, Detroit Free Press.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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