Welcome Center unveils Flick statue: ‘Lick at your own risk’
BY CARRIE NAPOLEON Post-Tribune correspondent October 29, 2013 6:40PM
A statue of the character Flick from the movie "A Christmas Story" welcomes visitors to the South Shore Convenction and Visitors Authority's Indiana Welcome Center and the movie-associated activities throughout the holiday season. | Post-Tribune photo
Updated: December 1, 2013 8:22AM
HAMMOND — The “triple-dog dare” that forever lives in the hearts and minds of fans of the iconic holiday movie “A Christmas Story” has found a permanent home at the Indiana Welcome Center.
On Tuesday, Speros Batistatos, president and CEO of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, unveiled a bronze statue of the character Flick from “A Christmas Story,” complete with boy’s tongue stuck to the flagpole, with help from the actor who played the role, Scott Schwartz.
“It’s surreal,” Schwartz said of the bronze statue immortalizing his 14-year-old self. “What do you say about something that will be here after you are gone?”
Batistatos said the movie, based on the book “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash” by Hammond native Jean Shepherd, offered a unique way for the agency to highlight its 30th anniversary.
“The South Shore CVA wanted to do something special for our 30th anniversary, as well as the 30th anniversary of the holiday classic ‘A Christmas Story,’ ” Batistatos said.
The visitor center hosts an exhibit featuring store window scenes from the movie every holiday season. This year the exhibit opens Nov. 9. As part of the celebration this year, Batistatos said, additional cast members from the movie will make appearances at the Welcome Center throughout the holiday season.
Schwartz said it is amazing so many people still appreciate “A Christmas Story” 30 years later. At the time, he said, no one realized the enduring cult appeal the film and its characters would create. Originally, Flick was supposed to have just 16 lines but the role evolved.
“It’s pretty awesome. It really is,” Schwartz said.
The statue was commissioned by the SSCVA in partnership with Warner Bros. Consumer Products from Timeless Creations, the Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt Amrany. The studio is behind the iconic bronze statues of Michael Jordan, Frank Thomas and Harry Carey in Chicago and of Orville Redenbacher, who sits on a bench in Valparaiso.
Paying for the Hammond statue began with a kick-off donation of $1,000 from W.F. “Bill” Wellman, board vice chairman. A fundraising drive at the visitors center helped pay for a portion of the $32,000 statue with the SSCVA making up the difference.
Schwartz said the role sticks in the minds of people. He said he still gets calls from a media outlet somewhere in the frozen Midwest seeking comment on the latest child to emulate Flick’s bravado by sticking his tongue to a flagpole.
“He’s a schmuck,” Schwartz said, laughing at his usual response.
The Flick statue, located outside of the Indiana Welcome Center and position with his tongue attached to one of the center’s three large flagpoles, likely will be a tempting photo opportunity for visitors — and that is fine with SSCVA officials, with one caveat.
“Lick at your own risk,” Batistatos said.