Meet ‘A Christmas Story’ cast December 16-17, 2023, as they reunite at the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond, Indiana. The movie marks its 40th anniversary this year. To celebrate, the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority is hosting “Ralphie & the Gang Come Home.” Eight cast members are scheduled to be there, including Peter Billingsley, who played Ralphie in the movie.
The Movie’s Local Connection
If you’re a A Christmas Story fan and are from the Hammond area, you probably know the story’s author, Jean Shepherd, grew up in Hammond. The name of the town in the movie is Hohman, which is actually the name of a street in Hammond. Higbee’s Department Store is a reference to Hammond’s Goldblatt’s. I grew up across the state line from Hammond, and shopped at Goldblatt’s often. A highlight around the holidays was checking out the displays in Goldblatt’s window, like the holiday display where, in the movie, Ralphie falls in love with the Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle.
The cast is excited to reunite in the city where it all began. In a press conference hosted by the A Christmas Story Family, Peter Billingsley stated, “For me, it will be particularly nice coming back to the place where Jean’s from, just to connect a little bit on that level… to see a little bit more about how he grew up.” Yano Anaya, who played Grover Dill (one of the bullies) in the movie, agrees. “Having this gift, coming back to the birthplace of A Christmas Story in Hammond, Indiana, is going to be amazing, and I’m excited about it.”
The Movie Cast Reunion
The cast has remained close since the movie’s filming forty years ago. Billingsley said, “There is a sort of brotherhood that develops and a camaraderie that’s natural. We got to spend a lot of good time together when making the movie. I think [Director] Bob Clark encouraged that so that the kids feel like real friends or brothers.”
Although they remain close and groups of them would meet occasionally, Billingsley said it never worked out to all be together at the exact time. He added that Scott Schwartz, who played Flick, is instrumental in keeping everyone in touch. “He always reached out and [saw] everybody and kept in touch and would update me on everyone else and vice versa.”
They filmed the 2022 movie sequel, A Christmas Story Christmas. However, the way production schedules work, they didn’t all film at the same time. So, the movie’s 40th anniversary event on December 16-17 is truly a reunion for the cast members, and they’re looking forward to it
A Little More History About “A Christmas Story”
Billingsley said Bob Clark and Jean Shepherd worked almost twelve years to get the movie made. Hollywood wasn’t interested in a movie with a child lead and full of narration.
When the movie premiered in 1983, it wasn’t a blockbuster, and soon disappeared from theaters. However, as cable television became popular, people started seeing A Christmas Story in their homes. It became more and more popular, and today is among the most popular Christmas movies.
How to Get Free tickets to Meet ‘A Christmas Story’ cast
Tickets are required to meet ‘A Christmas Story’ cast, but they are free and available online. The schedule includes specific autograph and photo op times. (Note that cast members may charge for autographs and photos).
For a fee, fans can also enter the Mommy’s Little Piggy mashed potato eating contest, scheduled each day.
A Christmas Story Comes Home Exhibit Through December 30
In addition to the 40th anniversary event, the Indiana Welcome Center is exhibiting its annual “A Christmas Story Comes Home” display through December 30. Displays that first appeared in New York’s Macy’s windows depict various scenes from A Christmas Story. Each scene has a monitor nearby playing that scene. The exhibit is free.
Children can also visit Santa on Santa’s Mountain, and then slide down the mountainside. (There is a fee for a photo with Santa.)
If you go…
The Indiana Welcome Center is located at 7770 Corinne Drive, off of Kennedy Avenue, just south of the I-80/94 Exit 3.
If you’re looking for gift ideas for “A Christmas Story” fans, you’ll find plenty of options on the A Christmas Story Gift Shop.