Tourism group wants to get ‘Christmas Story’ statue
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent October 18, 2012 3:00PM
Updated: November 20, 2012 11:01AM
HAMMOND — Plans are in the works for a fundraiser to bring a statue of the character Flick from the movie “A Christmas Story” to the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority visitors center to mark the film’s 30th anniversary.
Authority board members on Thursday kicked around the idea of how to raise money to have a statue like the one in Valparaiso of popcorn king Orville Redenbacher built at the visitor center in time for the 2013 holiday season and the anniversary of the film based on native son Jean Shepherd’s stories about his Hammond childhood.
Speros Batistatos, executive director of the Visitors Authority, said Valparaiso was able to raise the $62,000 for the statue by Highwood, Ill.-based artist Lou Cella through private donations and he wants to see if Lake County can do the same. Cella was involved in the creation of the Ernie Banks and Harry Carey statues at Wrigley Field, the Carlton Fisk statue at U.S. Cellular Field and the Community Veterans Memorial in Munster, among other works.
“It could be a huge fundraising effort,” Batistatos said.
Bill Wellman, board vice chairman, who was involved in the Valparaiso project, kicked off the fundraising effort with $1,000 donation. “We have an opportunity, I think, to do something big,” Wellman said.
He suggested staff look at the possibility of conducting a raffle for a trip to New York to see the Broadway musical “A Christmas Story.” The Visitors Authority could sell tickets to visitors to the annual “A Christmas Story” exhibit, which opens Nov. 11.
Wellman said he would like to see the the Visitors Authority buy the rights to the musical once it has its run on Broadway and begin running the production each season in conjunction with the exhibit.
He said tapping children from around the region to fill the many youth roles would help keep interest in the play and it could turn into another fundraising opportunity.