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A Christmas Story House, A Major Award, and an Official Red Ryder BB Gun
My adult daughter Lexi and I took a girls’ vacation to Cleveland, Ohio. One of our favorite stops on the trip was the Christmas Story House (which is really more of a Christmas Story home, if we’re being honest), where the classic movie, A Christmas Story, was filmed. We had so much fun learning about a Christmas Story bb gun and the Leg Lamp in a Christmas story (it’s a major award, ya know).
What is the Christmas Story Home Anyway?
Have you seen the old classic movie “The Christmas Story?” You probably know the story of Ralphie and a Christmas Story bb gun. Set in 1940, ten-year-old Ralphie wants nothing more than a prized Red Ryder BB Gun. Ralphie spends the entire Holiday season finding ways to make that gun appear under his tree on Christmas morning. The movie, produced in 1983, started with a fizzle and was widely panned by critics. It has since become a big Christmas hit and a beloved part of the fabric of American Christmas lore.
Pick up your Blu-Ray copy of A Christmas Story HERE
Memories of A Christmas Story
I remember seeing A Christmas Story in the theater in 1983. My dad and brother were off on their annual deer hunting trip, and my mom and I went along with my grandma, aunt, and two cousins to see it in the middle of our annual Christmas shopping trip. I have a special attachment to the movie because it is one of my early memories and includes my grandma, who passed away just a couple of years later. My memories of grandma are fleeting, but this memory is strong and gives me a warm fuzzy.
Your Adventure Begins in the Gift Shop
We found out that the movie A Christmas Story was filmed in a small house in the suburbs of Cleveland and we knew we had to check it out! We found the home well-marked and tucked into a quaint little neighborhood in front of the Cleveland Steel Mill.
After parking our car in the small lot between the Christmas Story Home and the Bumpus House, we began our adventure in the gift shop right across the street from the actual house. In the gift shop, you can fill your cart with all kinds of Christmas Story goodies including t-shirts, Christmas ornaments, keychains, Dept 56 A Christmas Story Village Pieces, pink bunny slippers, and of course, multiple sizes of leg lamps! I wanted a giant 50 inch full size leg lamp with a sleek attractive curve (it’s a major award, ya know) to display in my front window. At $249 (on sale from the original price of $299), it was a little steep for my budget. I settled for the 20” lamp priced at $59.95. It will still look amazing in my window at home.
On a side note, if you don’t want a giant leg lamp, you can pick up a great little leg lamps night light while you’re here, or a desktop leg lamp if you’re somewhere in the middle. One thing’s for certain. There is no lack of Christmas Story Leg Lamp choices! And yes, shipping is available, too! There is also a small area of the gift shop that carries products from the other Christmas classics Christmas Vacation and Elf (fun fact: Peter Billingsly, the actor who portrays Ralphie, has a Cameo in Elf).
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Take the Tour – It’s Worth It!
As we wandered the gift shop, we discovered that to tour the actual house, we would need to sign up for a time and pay the tour fee of $15 per adult. We signed up for the 4:15 tour and made our leg lamp purchase before moving on to the actual tour of the Christmas Story home.
Adults (ages 13+): $15
Children (ages 3-12): $11
Children (0-24 mos): FREE
Tickets include access to both A Christmas Story House and the museum located across the street.
At our visit, tours ran every half hour throughout the day, beginning at 10:15 am. The Christmas Story home closes at 5, and the last tour began at 4:15, so we knew we would be the last ones through the house. The schedule may be slightly different when you visit, but that’s been pretty standard for a few years now. Also take note that you might need to purchase your tickets in advance or earlier in the day, depending upon how busy the house is. The Christmas Story House is open year round. We visited in October and were very surprised that the whole grounds were hopping with people and the tours were filling fast!
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Was The Movie Really Filmed Here?
We gathered in front of the Christmas Story home with about ten other people and waited for our tour to begin. A friendly young man made his way over to us. He escorted us into the movie-restored house, complete with the home decor from the movie, for visitors to enjoy. The living room is complete with the Christmas Tree, the “Major Award” in the center of the front window, and the radio that Ralphie tunes in on to listen to the Little Orphan Annie radio show.
My first impression was that the home was much smaller inside than I expected. I am not alone in this quick assessment, because as you will soon find out from your friendly tour guide, filmmakers shot only about 15% of the movie inside of the home. Moviemakers filmed the other 85% of scenes set inside the house on a movie set in Canada. The size restriction of large cameras and an entire cast in the interior of that little house was just not practical. I won’t spoil the fun by telling you all the good stuff. You must come and hear the fun facts for yourself, but I will tell you that much of the movie’s outdoor scenes were filmed right in front and behind this picturesque little home.
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Why is the Christmas Story Home in Cleveland?
One of the questions Lexi and I pondered on our way to the Christmas Story Home was how a movie set in Indiana came to be filmed in a suburb of Cleveland. Why wouldn’t they have found a home in Indiana? It’s a fair question!
We found out right away, and it has to do with what Department Store in the whole winter snow area of the country was willing to leave their Christmas decorations up for the filming that would take place in January.
Enter Higbee’s Department Store in downtown Cleveland! Higbee’s was a real, actual working department store, and the owners were happy to help. Be sure and check out the Higbee building in downtown Cleveland now. It is no longer an actual department store. The new owners re-purposed the building as the fantastic Jack Casino. The Jack Casino has done an outstanding job of preserving the interior of the building. Steeped in the history of Cleveland, the Higbee building carries many memories for locals. These community members very much appreciate the new owners’ care in preserving the integrity of the building’s interior.
After you hear about Higbee’s your tour guide will tell you how the movie-making team found this little house and convinced the owner to let them use it for their movie-making fun! You will not want to miss this fun story!
The Rest of the House
After you’ve gotten a good look at the main level of the Christmas Story home and the Christmas Story leg lamp (it’s a major award in case you didn’t know), your guide will release you to wander the two levels of the house. You can enjoy a closer look at the kitchen and climb into the cabinet like little brother Randy. Then head upstairs where you can get a peek at the bathroom where Ralphie uses his much-beloved decoder pin. You can even get a look at Ralphie and Randy’s beds in the room on the second floor. Filmmakers shot the scene where Ralphie looks out the room window to see the falling snow on Christmas morning right here.
The home tour ends with a look into the backyard and the shed where Ralphie fights off bandits with his trusty Red Ryder bb gun. The original shed is still standing and is a movie favorite: A Christmas Story bb gun victory!
The Christmas Story House Museum
Once you complete the tour of the Christmas Story Home, your guide will escort you across the street to the A Christmas Story House Museum. The museum holds many of the original costumes and original props from the film. Look for Randy’s snowsuit and Miss Shields’ A+++++ chalkboard. Be sure and ask about the Christmas Story leg lamp (it’s a major award) on display. You might be surprised at the answer. The true star of the museum is the actual A Christmas Story bb gun. Yes, the real Red Ryder model bb air gun used in the film. Nothing shines quite as brightly as that “Official Red Ryder carbine action, 200-shot, range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time!”
Also housed in the museum is a collection of photos taken behind the scenes during the movie’s filming. Your tour guide comes with you into the small museum and shares lots of fun facts about the props, costumes, and memorabilia. You will also hear about how Christmas Story House and museum owner Brian Jones came to purchase the house from an eBay listing.
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Saying Goodbye to The Christmas Story Home
The Christmas Story House is a unique little diamond in the suburbs of Cleveland. The home and the museum pack a powerful punch if you’re a fan of the movie. And if you are not yet a fan of the film, be sure and pick up a DVD in the gift shop to take home with you. After you hear all the great stories surrounding the making of this movie, you will indeed have a whole new perspective around the film, and it will quickly become a family favorite for your Christmas traditions.
One final note – you can contact the Christmas Story House to inquire about overnight stays. You can actually rent the house and spend the night! Talk about a Christmas wish come true! This would be the Holy Grail of Christmas events, don’t you think? You can find more information with a quick search on the website online. www.achristmasstoryhouse.com
A Christmas Story House & Museum
3159 W. 11th St., Cleveland, OH 44109, United States
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