Updated: December 19, 2012 11:42AM
On one of the most memorable flights I’ve ever taken, the passenger next to me started to cry. He wasn’t alone. Fortunately, it was laughter that brought them to tears while watching an on-board movie. The film was “A Christmas Story.”
On Saturday, Nov. 17, the quirky fun of this classic holiday film will come alive in the Downtown Hammond Council’s event, A Tribute to “A Christmas Story.”
“This event just keeps growing and growing, and at the same time, downtown Hammond has been going through a wonderful transformation ... with a theater, art galleries and a diverse mix of local businesses,” said Karen Maravilla, event coordinator and council president.
The film is based on the charming, quasi-fictional stories by Hammond native Jean Shepherd, and set in about 1940 in the fictional Hohman, Ind. Saturday’s event is set in numerous indoor and outdoor venues along and just off of Hohman Avenue.
Maravilla said that the No. 1 goal with this event is to bring Christmas back to downtown Hammond. Another hope is that in these tough economic times, families can enjoy this event regardless of their ability to pay, as all of the activities are free or at very low cost.
For example, if you haven’t seen the film or if watching it annually is part of your family’s tradition, then you can catch a screening at 1:15 or 3:30 p.m. at the Towle Theater, 5205 Hohman Ave. Though admission is free, donations, even of $1 or $2, are appreciated and help to defray the cost of the event, according to Maravilla.
The plot of “A Christmas Story” is centered around 9-year-old Ralphie’s hope to get a BB gun for Christmas only to be told by numerous adults, “you’ll shoot your eye out.” On Saturday you can try your hand in the shooting gallery, shooting foam projectiles at oversized pictures of the bespectacled Ralphie.
The scene that got the biggest reaction on my 1983 flight was when 9-year-old Flick touched his tongue to a frozen flagpole on the schoolyard after a recess dare — and his tongue stuck. On Saturday, fans of the film have the chance to, sort of, recreate that scene for a photo opportunity, complete with members of the Hammond Fire Department. In a hygienic twist, wax lips will be provided.
“A favorite last year was turkey bowling. Whether the bowler was an adult or child — it was a blast,” said Maravilla.
In the film, the family’s turkey dinner is devoured by the neighbor’s dogs, the Bumpus hounds. At the event, frozen turkeys serve as bowling balls to slide toward the pins. You can also get “a great Christmas gift” according to Maravilla, as there will be dogs available for adoption from Hearts and Hounds Rescue.
Other film-related activities include: the opportunity to meet with Santa and his mean elf; creating a leg lamp lampshade to take home; writing letters to Santa; a reading class and getting a free book from the teacher, Mrs. Shields; and seeing how quickly you can change a tire.
In the film, the expletive that Ralphie lets slip while helping his father change a flat tire is changed to the word “fudge.” On Saturday, you can enter the fudge or holiday cookie baking contest. You can also enter the character look-alike contest.
A Tribute to “A Christmas Story” will also include a free opportunity for children to make gifts for their parents, plus: horse-drawn carriage rides; storytelling; caroling and sing-alongs; art projects; an arts and crafts fair; garage sales; food vendors; a live broadcast by WJOB-AM (1230) radio; a holiday bazaar and more.
Bring a wrapped item that is in good shape for the “pink bunny” gift exchange. Named for the childish pajamas Ralphie gets as a gift from an aunt, Maravilla said this is a fun way to recycle.
“A Christmas Story” fun continues through Jan. 6 at the Indiana Welcome Center just off of the Kennedy Avenue exit of Interstate 94.
Find more details through the links at www.southshorecva.com.