Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Look-Alike Ralphie

Jacob Rokusek, 10, of Crystal Lake bears a decent resemblance to Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley) from the 1983 holiday classic movie, "A Christmas Story."
So his dad, David, outfitted him appropriately and perched him in the window of his store -- The Atomic Toy Galena -- for several hours last weekend as part of the resort town's Living Windows Weekend festivities. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Breemer).
The elder Rokusek told me his store does a brisk business in "Christmas Story" related items, such as Daisy's Red Ryder BB gun. Ralphie's obsession with that gun and the grown-ups' obsession with the inevitable ocular damage he will inflict upon himself if he gets the gun for Christmas are major plot engines.
The obsession of fans with this movie -- set in Hohman (read Hammond), Ind. but filmed mostly in Cleveland and Canada -- does not seem to dim as the years go by.
As our Real Estate section reported several weeks ago, the house in Cleveland used primarily for exterior shots of the Parker home opened last month as a tourist attraction. There's a museum dedicated to the movie across the street and a robust Web site where you can order the lamp and other facsimile props.
The Jean Shepherd Preservation Society now hosts an annual festival dedicated to keeping the author's memory alive. Fans have posted assorted memorable sound clips online ("Deck the Hall" sung by Chinese waiters ; Santa's "shoot your eye out" admonition). The cable channel TBS will run the movie non stop from 7 p.m. Christmas Eve until 7 p.m. Christmas Day.
It appears that this film's hold on the American psyche is anything but fra-gee-lay.
(Hat tip to Cal Skinner)