Monday, January 7, 2008
The Cleveland Christmas Experience
I forgot to mention when I wrote about the Boar's Head Feast at the cathedral that another part of that day in Cleveland involves driving by the Christmas Story House to see the leg lamp in the window. A wealthy young man from California saw on the web that the very house used in the best Christmas movie ever made was for sale. He snapped it up and has made tours of it a very popular experience for everyone in the country, apparently.
It's in a very dingy part of Cleveland, overlooking the valley of steel mills, in a working class neighborhood of wooden houses packed closely together on a narrow street. The entrepreneur has remodeled the interior to match the movie sets. (Only the exterior was used in the movie, as was the Christmas parade in Public Square downtown. Sadly, the Higbee's department store window containing the longed for Red Ryder BB gun no longer exists as a department store.)This enterprising young man has bought up a few of the other houses on the street and turned them into a museum (complete with the actual pink bunny suit) and a gift shop - where you can buy a leg lamp like the one in the window of THE house.
I drove by it last year when I was on one of my trips to the West Side Market, where I like to shop. If you go there during the day, especially from Thanksgiving on, the streets in and around the area are packed with parked cars from all over the country. There are lines 4 and 5 abreast winding around the block. This year, a local Chinese restaurant has been incorporated into the experience where you can order roast duck and be regaled with Fa-ra-ra-ra-ra-ras. I don't know if that includes a head whacking of the duck, though.
We just like to drive by after the Boar's Head thing when all the crowds are gone and gaze at the lighted lamp in the window. Last year, we got out of the car and a couple of people were standing there quoting lines from the movie - "A major award!" "Fra-gee-lay," as they admired the lamp.
Since "A Christmas Story" has now become the number one family flick for the holiday season, surpassing "It's a Wonderful Life", there will probably be droves of folks coming by for years to come. They could do worse.