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'A Christmas Story Comes Home' exhibit a cherished tradition in Northwest Indiana
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'A Christmas Story Comes Home' exhibit a cherished tradition in Northwest Indiana

Some men are Baptists, others Catholics, Ralphie's Old Man an Oldsmobile man, but all can appreciate "A Christmas Story Comes Home."

No one has to be triple-dog dared to visit the free exhibit that pays homage to Hammond native Jean Shepherd's "A Christmas Story," which has become as much of a cherished holiday tradition in the Region as watching the holiday classic during its 24-hour marathons on cable every Christmas.

One can watch Ralphie's irrepressible quest to shoot his eye out with his coveted Red Ryder BB gun when the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority unwraps its annual “A Christmas Story” exhibit. It runs at The Indiana Welcome Center at 7770 Corinne Drive in Hammond through Jan. 2.

The annual exhibition features animated department store window displays that depict scenes from the movie, including Higbee’s Department Store based on Hammond's bygone Goldblatt's, A Hero’s Dream, 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. They were originally displayed at the Macy's Department Store in New York City and later acquired by the SSCVA.

"We will not be having the special events this year, as we are trying to be sensitive to COVID protocols that could change at any time," SSCVA spokeswoman Cathy Svetanoff said. "Visitors can continue to book an appointment for Santa photos." 

That's right Santa ... "the big man ... the head honcho ... the connection,” as Shepherd wrote in the screenplay he co-wrote with Leigh Brown and director Bob Clark.

It's based on his 1966 book "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash," a collection of short stories he wrote about growing up in Hammond. Many first appeared in magazines like Playboy or his late-night radio broadcasts that attained a cult following on the East Coast.

Shepherd serves as the adult narrator in the film set in Hohman, Indiana, a lightly veiled version of his hometown named after the downtown Hohman Avenue stretch. He also makes a cameo in the film as a man waiting in line at the department store to see Santa. 

Kids can visit with Santa in a socially distanced way during the "A Christmas Story Comes Home" exhibit this year. Jolly Old Saint Nick will be safely behind a glass partition while visiting with kids and posing for photos.

Appointments with Santa cost $10, and additional photos can be purchased for $6.

The free exhibit is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with Santa, visit christmasstorycomeshome.com.

To reserve a photo with Santa, visit southshorecva.com/a-christmas-story/photos-with-santa.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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