“You’ll shoot your eye out!” exclaims everyone with whom little Ralphie Parker shares his dream of Santa bringing him “an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two hundred shot range model air rifle.” “A Christmas Story,” released in 1983 and based on author Jean Shepherd’s childhood years, has become an American holiday movie classic. Shepherd grew up in Hammond, Indiana, the model city for the movie’s fictitious town of Hohman. Hammond celebrates the movie every Christmas season at the Indiana Welcome Center with fun displays and special events. The 2015 event runs from November 12 through December 31, 2016.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated for 2016.
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Outside the Welcome Center, a bronze statue of Flick with his tongue stuck to the flagpole makes for a great photo op.
Inside, six scenes from “A Christmas Story,” five of which first appeared in the New York Macy’s windows, are on display, with a nearby monitor playing the movie scene that is being depicted. The first display is of the department store Christmas window in which Ralphie first lays his eyes on the Red Ryder air rifle. The fictional store is Higbee’s, but it was modeled after the real Goldblatt’s, the store to see Santa in Hammond in the 1930s.
You’ll also see displays of the triple-dog-dare flagpole scene, the leg lamp scene, and Christmas Mountain where Ralphie asks Santa for the Red Ryder air rifle. Who can forget the dogs that run through the house and devour the Christmas turkey, leaving the family with no choice for dinner but a Chinese restaurant?
On weekends from Thanksgiving through Christmas, have your kids’ or grandkids’ photos taken with Santa. Afterwards, they will slide down the big red slide on Santa’s Mountain, just like Ralphie did in the movie.
Kids can drop letters with their Christmas wishes into Santa’s Mailbox.
And if you have your own “Ralphie,” what would be better gift than a Red Ryder air rifle?
2016 ‘A Christmas Story Comes Home’ Special Events:
- December 3: A Major Event. Children’s activities from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Holiday magic show, bingo, scavenger hunt, craft table ($1), train rides for kids ($1) “A Christmas Story” movie at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
- December 3: Holiday Market. Artisan vendors selling items from hot chocolate to handmade soap. Held in the Welcome Center parking lot.
- December 8: Holiday for Heroes. Exclusively for the region’s police, firefighters, EMS, military forces, and Hoosier Helpers. Cookies and hot cocoa, free photos.
- December 10: “Oh Fuudge!” Tire Changing Relay. Parent/child teams run through an obstacle course. Prizes will be awarded for the team with the best time. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. and the event starts at 10 a.m. Entry fee: Canned foods/non-perishable items for the Northwest Indiana Food Bank.
- December 17: “Mommy’s Little Piggy” Mashed Potato Eating Contest. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. and the contest starts at 10 a.m. Entry fee: Canned foods/non-perishable items for the Northwest Indiana Food Bank.
- Write a Theme: Write a theme about what you would like to receive for Christmas. Four age categories from 7 and under to 18 and over. Entries due by December 15.
- Ugly Lamp Contest: Check out the entries in the Ugly Lamp Contest, a nod to the leg lamp featured in the movie.
The Indiana Welcome Center is located at 7770 Corinne Drive, off of Kennedy Avenue just south of the I-80/94 Exit 3. For hours, event schedule and other details, visit the Indiana South Shore CVA web site. Ask at the Welcome Center counter for a map to the self-guided “A Christmas Story” tour in Hammond.
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