By VICTORIA HENLEY
Fans of the cult Christmas classic, “A Christmas Story,” rejoice!
A Christmas Story House, now restored to its original movie splendor and nestled just outside the hustle and bustle of downtown Cleveland, Ohio is open year-round to the public.
Boasting props (custom-made to resemble those from the movie), interactive photo ops, and a fun, involved tour with a personal touch, A Christmas Story House tour also offers a visit to the Christmas Story Museum, featuring costumes, including Miss Shield’s Chalkboard, the family car and Randy’s snowsuit. Leg lamps, bunny suits and other quirky memorabilia from this beloved 1983 film are available in the unique, one-of-a-kind, gift shop across the street, which is where your guided tour will begin.
Ernie Scales, the museum’s lead tour guide, sat down to chat with Backstage Pass, and here is what he had to say:
BACKSTAGE PASS: Ernie, you obviously know quite a lot about “A Christmas Story.” Could you please share what the research process looks like for becoming a lead tour guide?
Ernie Scales: The research process is more draining than you would think. I am required to watch the movie many, many times over to become more familiar with all its little details and nuances. Researching the cast and pouring over reading materials provided by my bosses have helped me prepare for this job as well.
BP: You must meet some ‘Christmas Story’ fanatics. Any crazy stories you’d like to share?
ES: I met this one lady who is obsessed with the movie and has nine different “A Christmas Story” tattoos. She does the tour every single year, and each time she comes back, she seems just as amazed as the year before. Another woman wore this nude bodysuit with fishnet hose stretched over the top, and a lamp shade for a hat. When I turned around to give her my info, I quickly turned back in the opposite direction because I thought she was naked. Many people tour the house in costume, but that was probably the most unique one I have ever seen.
BP: We are getting some Halloween Costume Ideas here on Backstage Pass!
ES: Yes! Just don’t forget to wear the nude bodysuit under your fishnets, or that might be awkward! (laughs)
BP: Your job is extremely unique. What led you to this position?
ES: It’s funny, my mom actually filled out my application for this job, so I didn’t even know I was applying until I got the call. My mom is an “A Christmas Story” Super-fan, and she always used that movie to bring my siblings and me closer during the holidays.
BP: Would you consider yourself an “A Christmas Story” Superman?
ES: Maybe it’s a generational thing, but I wasn’t too crazy about the movie as a kid. I was sort of forced to like it. Since I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to appreciate the storyline a lot more, and now, I can definitely say I’m a fan.
BP: Have you met any of the actors from the film?
ES: I got to meet Teddy Moore, who played Miss Shields, and we actually flew her in from Canada to redo the “A+, +, +” on the chalkboard, as our chalkboard writing had faded. Instead of just writing on the chalkboard, she went all around the museum, writing on the walls, just like she did in the movie. I thought that was pretty hilarious, but I still ended up having to scrub down the walls. Patty Johnson, who played Santa’s Head Elf, came in for a meet and greet, and she was just an amazing lady. Seeing the way she interacted with all of her fans was an awesome experience. She actually ended up losing one of her earrings, and I was on my hands and knees for about two hours trying to find it. When she returned a couple years later, she remember exactly who I was and what I had done, trying to help her. Kind deeds don’t go untouched, and I thought that was really cool.
BP: What is one thing people should expect when they visit the museum?
ES: I think people should know the tour is very interactive, laid back, relaxed, and yes, you are seeing the actual “A Christmas Story” house and getting to play with original props and settings. Our whole goal is for people to get a personal touch and to feel at home. This is definitely my favorite job I’ve ever had, and I am so thankful to be part of it.
BP: Tell us a bit about the Bumpus House.
ES: The Bumpus House is the A Christmas Story House and Museum’s premier Bred and Breakfast, where guests can experience the ambiance of the movie during their stay. The A Christmas Story House is also available for nightly rent, and you can create your own memories in the house where the movie was filmed.
For hours and tickets, visit achristmasstoryhouse.com
Ernie Scales Instagram: @ikeelu2x