CLEVELAND - It's an annual must-see for many families. Each year the movie 'A Christmas Story' plays continuously on TV, and some scenes from the classic were set right here in Cleveland. This holiday, one family is actually spending the holiday living in the 'A Christmas Story' house.
The film was released in 1983 and set in fictional Hohman, Indiana, but viewers will see Cleveland throughout, from the parade scene in Public Square to the former Higbee’s Department Store, now the Horseshoe Casino. The infamous Santa scene was filmed inside. Higbee’s managers were the only ones to agree to the movie shoot, out of more than 100 requests to stores across the country.
The film’s director also scoured 20 cities before settling on a home in Tremont to serve as the Parkers’ home. While indoor scenes were shot in a studio, outdoor scenes were shot at the home on West 11th Street, called Cleveland Street in the film.
“You've got the stairway and that ambiance that he needed for the house,” tour guide Garold Holden said, adding that the proximity to downtown’s location, space for crews and the steelyard back drop convinced director Bob Clark to settle here.
Brian Jones, of California, bought the house for $150,000 in 2003 and spent another $250,000 transforming it into a replica set with a nearby museum. Guests can pose with the iconic Red Ryder BB Gun and the leg lamp in the front window.
“The movie has that appeal. It's that universality because it appeals to every age group,” Holden said.
This Christmas, a mother and daughter from Philadelphia are special guests and maybe the movie's biggest fans.
“I know every word, I'm obsessed with it. I love the marathon on Christmas Eve. It's just a great movie,” Courtney Roberts said. “I feel like a kid again.”
She and her mother, Nancy Roberts, had the winning bid in the “Spend Christmas in A Christmas Story House” charity auction on eBay, with $8.523.21. They’ll spend two nights in the house. The money benefits A Christmas Story House Foundation, which helps restore the neighborhood.
“It's important to me because I think this was probably the best way to celebrate my mother's memory,” Nancy Roberts said, adding that she bid to honor her mother, who recently passed away.
The house is closed to tours on Christmas. Staff said the day after Christmas is their busiest of the year, with between 3,000 and 5,000 visitors expected.