After planning the Cuyahoga Valley National Park adventure, I check the surrounding area to see if there was anything cool we could check out. There was. The house from A Christmas Story!
The area around the house was extremely run down. There was litter everywhere and some of the houses were in want of some TLC (not the band, the acronym). But we kept following our faithful GPS and sure enough, we soon saw the house.
Right next to the house was a guy waving us in for parking. My dad headed towards him but I yelled at him to turn down the street instead. The website stressed that a lot of people near the house used their lawns for paid parking, but that there was usually plenty of free parking on the street.
But man, that guy looked so official. He had flags and cones and even a professional looking sign made up. And with it right at the dead end of the street, I could totally see how he could make his living doing this.
There were a ton of people there. Across the street from the house is a museum and next to the museum is a gift shop. Apparently when the place first opened, hundreds of people came out and there was a line around the block. Which is hilarious because the movie tanked when it first came out. It wasn’t until they played the movie in a 24 hour loop on cable around Christmas that the movie became the classic that it is now.
But there were a good 30 people there. In October. Years after it opened. I’d love to find out why people go to the house. We went because we were going to be right there and how could you not?! A map in the museum showed people came from literally all over the world. It was packed with pins.
Anyway, you go to the gift shop and buy tour tickets for $10. The gift shop is fully loaded! I neglected to take a picture because I was so distracted. There was anything and everything you could possibly want. Props from the movie and figurines and ornaments and, of course, bunny pajamas.
The tour was actually kind of awesome. It runs in waves so we were with about 10 other people. We all gathered into the house and the tour guy told us the history of the movie and the house. Guys, it was fascinating. The only reason the filmmakers found this house was because they got lost. They filmed in the middle of winter and it was so cold that it didn’t snow (as us northerners know, this actually happens), so they had to make fake snow! After the movie, the house was turned into apartments. Some rich dude bought it and renovated it back to the house as it was in the movie.
There was so much more. I usually hate tours because they force you to go at someone else’s pace but this was actually kind of interesting. He also mentioned all the props in the film were authentic to the 1940s and my mind exploded. I could have sworn the movie was set in the 1980s…
After the tour, the guy said we had 15 minutes to explore the house. We could take pictures and touch anything we wanted!! There was only one room upstairs that had actual props from the movie but it was behind a rope and that was the only thing we couldn’t touch (the props, not the rope. I totally touched the rope).
There were so many versions of the leg lamp!
I don’t know if it was nostalgia or having a 3D experience of a 2D memory, but I had a lot of fun. It wish we had watched the movie right before we came here but we’d all seen it enough times that we could remind each other of everything.
The bathroom!!! The tour guy said the soap was actually lye soap and we could put it in our mouths if we wanted to see what it would have been like. We all laughed because of course he was joking. But upstairs in the bathroom, there were definite teeth marks in the soap…
The boys’ room.
After we checked out the inside, we went out and had free rein outside. Another tour was starting soon but they would be in the house for a good 20 minutes and everyone else had left so we had the back yard to ourselves.
I’m not sure what the neighbors think, but they must know that they get refered to as the Bumpuses on a daily basis.
After the house, we went into the museum. It was full of costumes and props and they had some kind of making-of documentary planning on a loop. Apparently they filmed this elaborate scene where Ralphie imagines himself helping a superhero fight against aliens but they decided not to use it. And the film is lost! All they have are costumes and some drawings.
The museum was cool but I’d rather just watch the making-of documentary.
All in all, I’m glad we went but I wouldn’t go again. You really have to be a fan of the movie for it to be fun, otherwise, you’ll have no idea what the hell is happening.
I wish I had a custom made Red Rider …. 😦
Ok. This is weird… I read your article on the Christmas Story house and the next day I turn on the tv and the channel it was on was showing the same house and interviewing the guy who turned it into a museum.
I have a custom made Red Rider, by the way!