Vivian Altieri, 5, of Griffith (left), and Rebecca Aldaba and Joselyn Martinez, 11, both of Hammond, decorate lampshades during the Downtown Hammond Council's Tribute to "A Christmas Story" in Hammond, Ind. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
For more information, visit www.downtownhammond.org or call 512-4298.
Updated: January 4, 2013 6:08AM
Downtown Hammond may not look like the iconic small town of Homan, Ind., portrayed in “A Christmas Story,” but the area recently was alive with as much activity as found in the motion picture.
The indoor/outdoor event was the fifth annual Tribute to “A Christmas Story” sponsored by the Downtown Hammond Council. This immensely popular holiday motion picture portrays 1940s life in Hammond, as seen through the eyes of author Jean Shepherd (through character Ralphie Parker).
“This movie is special to me. I grew up in Hammond and recognize a lot of things,” said Susan James, of Calumet City, Ill. “It’s such a good feeling to see my hometown on the big screen. Ralphie’s story about the BB gun has become a nationwide favorite, everyone loves this movie.”
Hundreds of people from many Northwest Indiana and nearby Illinois communities turned out for the yearly fest. The day’s agenda had enough activities to keep visitors busy morning and afternoon.
Kids games, crafts and Santa visits, turkey bowling, and shopping vendors were on the list, as well as food vendors and a holiday singalong at Paul Henry’s Art Gallery.
A Parker family look-a-like contest, cookie-baking contest and tire-changing contest also were offered.
For those wanting to take a break from all the flurry of things to do, horse-drawn carriage rides and two viewings of “A Christmas Story” at the Towle Theater also were available.
“We can’t get enough of this movie,” said Marilyn Sparks, of Merrillville, as she and her children wrapped up their craft at the South Shore Arts Substation and prepared to see one of the two showings at the theater. “My family is spread all over the United States, but everyone considers ‘A Christmas Story’ the staple for holiday viewing.”
Lacresha Biddings agrees. The Hammond resident just moved to town a few months ago from Chicago but knows the Ralphie story very well.
“We’re also going to the next showing of the movie, the kids love it,” she said. “And the event today is a wonderful way to keep it alive. There’s so much to do — these organizers are very creative.”
Indeed, Jamal Smith, of Gary, was perusing the list of events as his wife and children bought tickets for the various games of bean bag toss and others, housed in the former Mercantile Bank building. “We have four kids with us, and there’s so much on this list, I don’t think we’ll get to all of them today,” he said.
The huge popularity of “A Christmas Story” has spurred other celebratory events throughout the country, as well as a movie-marathon televised each year right before and during Christmas Day.
The Downtown Hammond Council is a nonprofit organization comprised of volunteers. Its mission is to beautify, revitalize and promote the downtown area, according to president Karen Maravilla.