A. Director Bob Clark reportedly sent scouts to twenty cities before selecting Cleveland for exterior filming. Cleveland was chosen because of Higbee’s Department Store in downtown Cleveland. Until they connected with Higbee’s, location scouts had been unsuccessful in finding a department store that was willing to be part of the film. Higbee’s vice president Bruce Campbell agreed to take part in the project on the condition he be allowed to edit the script for cursing. Ultimately, Higbee’s was the stage for three scenes in the film.
In addition to the scenes involving Higbee’s, the exterior shots (and select interior shots where Ralphie lived, including the opening of the leg lamp) of the house and neighborhood, were filmed in the Tremont section of Cleveland’s West Side. The house used as the Parker home in these scenes has been restored, reconfigured inside to match the soundstage interiors, and opened to the public as “A Christmas Story House”. Appropriately, the fictional boyhood home of Ralphie Parker is on Cleveland Street, the name of the actual street where Shepherd grew up.
However, Cleveland was only one of several locations used. The school scenes were shot at the Victoria School in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. The Christmas tree-purchasing scene was filmed in Toronto, Ontario, as was the sound stage filming of interior shots of the Parker home. The “…only I didn’t say fudge” scene was filmed at the foot of Cherry Street in Toronto; several lake freighters are visible in the background spending the winter at Toronto’s port, which lends authenticity to the time of year when the film was produced.
In 2008, two fans from Canada released a documentary that visits every location used in the film. Their film, Road Trip for Ralphie, was shot over two years and includes footage of the filmmakers saving Miss Shields’ blackboard from the garbage bin on the day the old Victoria School was gutted for renovation, discovering the antique fire truck that saved Flick, locating all the original costumes from the film, and tracking down the real-life location of the film’s Chop Suey Palace in Toronto.
MA NOTE – if you love this movie like we do, you may want to go see the musicial version performed right here in Sarnia at The Imperial Theatre. Runs from Dec. 15th to the 23rd. CLICK HERE for info.