By Carrie Steinweg
HAMMOND, Ind. (December 10, 2021) – Fans of the classic holiday movie “A Christmas Story,” may know that the author of the stories that the movie is based on, Jean Shepherd, grew up just a few miles from Lansing in the Hessville neighborhood of Hammond. The fictional town of Hohman in the movie is based on Shepherd’s childhood hometown.
This is the 14th year that the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority has opened a free exhibit that centers around the movie called “A Christmas Story Comes Home.”
The event has drawn about 32,000 to 35,000 in a typical year, but last year attendance was down about two-thirds due to the pandemic.
“Last year we limited it to fifty people at a time and attendance was less than 11,000,” said Heather Becerra, chief marketing officer for the South Shore CVA. “Our attendance will be more than last year, but probably not up to 30,000 make because we are not having special events that we’ve had in the past that have drawn big crowds.”
“We have seven window displays that were purchased from Macy’s in New York City and have been displaying them since 2008,” Becerra said. “We have the Parker living room. We have the Santa’s mountain scene. The Flick with the flagpole scene.”
This year’s changes
There is no capacity limitation this year, but visitors must be masked and there will be six-foot markers on the floor to help guests with social distancing.
There are also modifications to the events that will be happening. “Santa’s Mountain will not be returning this year,” Becerra said. “We have appointments that can be made online so we can keep families socially distant. I still don’t think people are comfortable standing elbow to elbow in line to wait for a photo.”
Visits with Santa will allow for social distancing and there is a plexiglass barrier between where Santa sits and where children sit for photo. The partition enables visitors to remove masks for a photo.
The relay race, holiday market, and event kick-off with train rides are not happening this year at the exhibit, but A Christmas Story Comes Home did host a night for first responders and their families recently, and will hold an event called “All is Calm” on December 15.
“It will be more sensory friendly with flashing lights turned off, no loud music, and special photos for children and adults with special abilities,” Becerra said.
Keeping a tradition going
Also within the exhibit hall is a collection of about two dozen trees each decorated by a different business or group. Several partners of the CVA have decorated trees as part of the display, including Fair Oaks Farms, the Mascot Hall of Fame, the Shrine of Christ’s Passion and Harvest Tyme.
“It’s one of those exhibits that is starting to become a tradition for everyone. People are excited to see it come back year after year,” Becerra said. An agreement was just signed with Warner Bros. that extends the rights to the South Shore CVA to continue the exhibit for four years.
Visitors will also find “A Christmas Story” merchandise and other holiday items in the gift shop and also at a gift counter inside the exhibit hall.
Exhibit hours and dates
The exhibit is open daily from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. through January 2. It is closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day and closes early on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Santa photos are available on select days with a pre-paid $10 appointment that includes one photo. Additional photos can be purchased for $6. For more information, visit achristmasstorycomeshome.com.
The South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority is located at 7770 Corinne Drive, Hammond, IN.
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