HAMMOND | It was a winter wonderland at the Indiana Welcome Center on Saturday as families crowded the center waiting on a picture with Santa or a chance to see the holiday classic, "A Christmas Story."
The "A Christmas Story" Comes Home exhibit centers around six animated displays depicting scenes from the movie. The displays include: The Hibgee's Department Store Window, Flick's Tongue and the Triple Dog Dare, It's a Major Award, Santa's Mountain at Higbee's, The Bumpus Hounds and the Parker Living Room. The displays were first showcased in 2003 in the windows of Macy's Department Store in New York City.
The "Christmas Story" on which the film was based takes place in 1939 or 1940 in the fictional northern Indiana town of Hohman (based on real-life Hammond, where writer Jean Shepherd grew up).
One little girl, pigtails slowly moving, focused intently on a cookie she was decorating while other children ran around looking at the displays. Some people stood in front of the Ugliest Lamp Contest while others voted on the best-decorated tree among the 36 Christmas trees at the center. Another line of parents and children were outside waiting on a chance to ride the Christmas train that took passengers around the parking lot.
Bethany Randolph, the Indiana Welcome Center special events coordinator, said close to 1,000 people had attended the event in the first hour.
Tiffany and Chris Rutherford, of Hammond, brought along five children ages 4 to 11, including their young son, cousins, nieces and nephews. They arrived before noon and stood in line waiting for a chance to have the children's photos taken atop Santa's Mountain, then they let the youngsters slide down into a pillow of snow, just like in the movie.
"This is really a nice place to take the kids," Chris Rutherford said. "There are many activities. Besides being able to take a picture with Santa, you can even bring your pet out here to take pictures. There are also several vendors and you can purchase food."
Rutherford's young cousin Rashaunna Jones, 11, of Hammond, said she enjoyed seeing Santa and playing with her cousins.