Fan Gives 'Christmas Story' House Another Shot at Fame
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
CLEVELAND -- Ralphie Parker and Brian Jones know what it's like to want something.
For Ralphie, the object of desire was an official Red Ryder, carbine-action, 200-shot, range model air rifle. (Go ahead, say it: "You'll shoot your eye out, kid.")
For Jones, the gotta-have-it item was Ralphie's house -- the one in "A Christmas Story," the quirky film that's found a niche alongside holiday classics like "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Miracle on 34th Street."
Jones has restored the three-story, wood-frame house to its appearance in the movie and opened it for tours beginning this past Saturday. His hope is that it will become a tourist stop alongside the city's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and other destinations.
He's unsure whether he'll make enough money to cover his $500,000 investment, but as sure as a kid's tongue will stick to a frozen flagpole, he's committed to the project.
"I just want people to come and enjoy it as I have," said Jones, a 30-year-old former Navy lieutenant.
"A Christmas Story" wasn't a big hit when released in 1983, but repeat TV airings and, in recent years, a 24-hour run on TBS starting Christmas Eve have made its story of a boy's quest to get a BB gun for Christmas as infectious as the bespectacled Ralphie's eager grin.
"It just kind of sets the mood. In the Jones household, it's on all day once the marathon comes on," said Jones, who's married with an 8-month-old daughter.
Jones first saw the movie in the late 1980s, and he and his parents became fans.
When the San Diego resident's dream of a becoming a Navy pilot like his father was denied because of his eyesight, his parents sent him a package to lift his spirits.
Marked "FRAGILE" on the outside, it contained a leg lamp his parents built to look just like the one received by Ralphie's father, who proudly displayed it in the living room window, boasting, "It's a major award!"
Jones's mom noted that he could probably make a business out of selling them. In 2003, he started doing just that.