The South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority does a remarkable job every Christmas of bringing visitors to the Indiana Welcome Center to celebrate the classic movie, "A Christmas Story."
That iconic movie, considered by many to be the best Christmas movie ever, is based on the stories of the late radio star Jean Shepherd, who grew up in Hammond's Hessville neighborhood.
The Downtown Hammond Council cannot go unnoticed, either. It brings visitors to Hammond every year in celebration of Shepherd's movie.
But they shouldn't be the only ones here to capitalize on the Jean Shepherd legacy. Get those tourists out into the community to see where Jean Shepherd grew up.
And make this an all-year tribute, not just at Christmas.
This is an opportunity just waiting for entrepreneurs to capitalize on it.
Restaurants could serve the "Chinese turkey" Christmas dinner, just like in the movie.
Movie memorabilia and other Jean Shepherd merchandise, along with period Christmas decorations, could be sold not just at the South Shore CVA's gift shop, but also at shops in nearby Hessville and in downtown Hammond.
Market Hammond shops better to get those tourists coming all year to celebrate the "A Christmas Story" legacy.
Make "A Christmas Story" a Hammond economic development story.
Cleveland has capitalized on the movie well. More than 50,000 tourists a year visit A Christmas Story House and Museum there. That's the house in the movie, as opposed to the actual house at 2907 Cleveland St., Hammond, where Shepherd grew up.
If Cleveland can capitalize on this movie so well, Hammond ought to do even better.
"We can own the event," said South Shore CVA President and CEO Speros Batistatos. "We are very credible in owning the event, more credible than anyone else in the country, regardless of where the movie was shot."
"There is room for more, and the city could embrace this more, and we're willing to work with any and all partners to build on what we've accomplished over the last several years," he said.
Northwest Indiana is on its way to building a tourist draw because of this movie, but here's an opportunity for entrepreneurs to step in and make this effort really take off.