South Shore Visitor’s Center - Hammond, Indiana: A Christmas Story

South Shore Visitor’s Center - Hammond, Indiana: A Christmas Story

Rich green holly adorns every lamp post, Christmas lights illuminate the streets with cheery spirits and laughter as mistletoe hovers discreetly above the threshold, awaiting love’s first kiss.

...Give me a break.

Some holiday magic only works on the television screen. With all these Hallmark moments and perfect Christmas cameos, we’ve lost sight of what the holidays have really become, obligation, want, and family tolerance. Indeed the holiday season can be summarized in one phrase, “exercise in futility”. No other man understood this better than the cynical, blue collar poet behind the All-American Christmas Carol, In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, Jean Shepherd.

Stopping by the South Shore Visitor’s Center last Saturday in Shepherd’s home town of Hammond, Indiana, I had the privilege of visiting the hilarious and nostalgic exhibit enshrining the film based on Shepherd’s classic tale, A Christmas Story.

Apparently their busiest day of the year, according to one of the employees, the visitor’s center was filled with screaming children lined up for miniature train rides, benches full of exhausted parents, and a worn out Santa Claus ready for the next shift rotation. It truly felt like Christmas.

Santa Slide Display

Slipping through the fluctuating cracks in the wall of people, I made my way to the whimsical displays of miniatures depicting the movie’s most iconic scenes. There was a brilliant toy display filled with smiling dolls, antique cars, and quaint airplanes, all framing the infamous, Red Ryder BB gun! Fortunately, no one shot their eyes out. Another display had a tall flagpole looming front and center with the brave and suggestible, Flick, extending his tongue out in surrender to the triple-dog dare. But my favorite among these had to be the classic mall Santa slide, animatronic elves complete with kicking action included!

Unable to keep myself away from the stench of deep fried carnival food, my exploration of the exhibit was put to an immediate halt at the sight of a man drenching a skewered waffle with liquid chocolate and caramel. Never having seen such beauty before, the gentleman informed me that these heart-stopping balls of batter on a stick were actually called, Fudge Puppies. Not willing to forget love at first sight, I purchased the greasy, sugar-coated lass and lost myself in her unrelenting, deliciousness. Dressed in caramel, Butterfinger powder, whipped cream and kissed with a helping of green and red sprinkles, this adulterous snack left me feeling dirty and alive!

Though it doesn’t look like the Fudge Puppy vendor attends on a set schedule, Santa Claus’s agenda is a little more open. On Wednesdays from 4p - 7p, and Saturdays and Sundays from 11a - 4p, Kris Kringle will have an open lap atop A Christmas Story style holiday mountain in the South Shore Visitor’s Center Exhibit Hall. Additionally, showings of the film will be featured every Sunday at 1p and 3p, it’s documentary at 11a, until Christmas.

Comments

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  • Sounds like fun. I need to check it out. The Christmas Story it truly unique to this area and captures our 'Region' personalities.

  • In reply to Pockets:

    Yeah, we certainly have a no-hand-holding holiday season down here. I hope you get a chance to see the exhibit. Don't let Santa kick you down the slide.

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    Travane Phoenix

    Aside from blogging, I’m the writer, director, actor and founder of the independent film group, ICE Productions. I’ve been volunteering at the John G. Shedd Aquarium since 2003 in the Interpretive Guest Services department; so if you’re visiting Shedd, keep an eye out for me. Practicing improv at Comedy Sportz in Chicago, I’ve had the privilege of competing in both their student and professional showcases. Always jumping at the opportunity to help new talent, I’ve also participated in multiple Columbia College short films and stage plays. Doing extras work whenever movies make their way into Chicago, I’ve been lucky enough to make it into several feature films and TV shows including: Contagion, The Dilemma, Chicago Code and ER. In my free time I enjoy a good bike ride, volleyball game, or simply losing my soul to Halo and Final Fantasy on one of my video game consoles.

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