CLEVELAND, Ohio — This year is the the 35th anniversary of “A Christmas Story,” one of the most beloved Christmas movies. The movie is set in Indiana, but the house seen in the film is about five hours east of Chicago on the edge of the old steel mills of Cleveland, Ohio.
Not only can you visit the house you see in the movie, you can tour it and stay in it.
It has become true Christmas pilgrimage since 2006 for a 100,000 people a year. All year round, but especially at Christmas time, fans of the movie make the trek to post pictures, tour Ralphie’s house and take home all things pink pajama and leg lamp. Building it was hardly a dream for Florida resident Brian Jones.
“I wanted to be a jet pilot and astronaut,” he said.
Jones, now 42, studied hard, became the valedictorian of his high school class, went on to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy and majored in aerospace engineering.
“I got to Pensacola, Florida for flight school and failed the vision test,” he said.
His lifelong dream was dashed in an instant. His parents plotted a pick-me-up for their heartbroken son. Their idea was “to build me a major award. A leg lamp,” Jones said.
So looking for a career change, Jones decided he’d sell leg lamps.
He sold 500 in his first year and nearly 2,000 in the second. Then in 2004, he took his business to a new level when the house from “A Christmas Story” was up for sale on eBay.
“I just thought, ‘That is the opportunity of a lifetime right there. That won’t come along twice,'" he said.
Jone bought it sight unseen and got to work to make the iconic house into a near-exact replica of the Parker’s house—inside and out. The interior of the Ohio house was barely used during the movie shoot, most of those scenes were shot on a sound stage in Canada. But now the exterior of the house is in Cleveland.
“What I’ve tried to do is basically create the experience when you’re coming here, it feels like their house,” Jones said.
“About half hour after we close, you get the whole house until about a half hour before we open, which is about 9:30 a.m. You can sit on the couch, grab the leg lamp, crawl under the sink, do whatever. You get to basically play in the house.”
It sleeps six and during the busy season could cost $3,000 a night.
Across the street is the museum where you’ll find one of the official Red Ryder too.
Ralphie’s block has been re-invented and turned into one of Cleveland’s hidden cinematic treasures more alive than ever at Christmas time.
While Ralphie’s house is magical at Christmas, it is also busiest now through the end of the year, but the house is open all year round.
Anyone who wants to book an overnight stay in Ralphie’s house or next door at the Bumpus’ visit their website. Ralphie’s room is already booked for the rest of 2018. They are now taking reservations for Christmas 2019.