New “A Christmas Story” Window Benefits Opportunity Enterprises

Fans of the cult Christmas classic, “A Christmas Story” now have a new feature to check out at the Indiana Welcome Center’s annual “A Christmas Story” Comes Home display.

At a special sneak peek Thursday a new window in the annual holiday display in the W.F. Wellman Exhibit Hall at the center in Hammond was unveiled in a special fundraiser event for Valparaiso-based Opportunity Enterprises.

The window features Ralphie’s dream sequence, in which his family hides under the kitchen table while he saves them from burglars, has joined the other animated windows that fill the perimeter of the Welcome Center, which has been turned into a winter wonderland.

“Seven years ago we bought six animatronic window displays...from Macy’s New York,” South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority President and CEO Speros Batistatos told those in attendance.

Through a letter of understanding with Warner Bros., which owns, “A Christmas Story,” the SSCVA is able to promote, “The Christmas Story.”

“We’ve been having a lot of fun with that,” said Batistatos, noting that it’s the 30th anniversary for both the SSCVA and “A Christmas Story.”

On October 29 the SSCVA unveiled a bronze statue of Flick, the boy whose tongue froze to a  flagpole in the movie.

Next weekend one of the windows will temporarily relocate to spend the holidays at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis.

“A Christmas Story,” is the wildly popular, and often most highly rated Christmas movie ever made. It has become a cult classic, spanning generations. Co-written by famed writer and Hammond, Indiana native Jean Shepherd, the movie is set in the fictional town of Hohman, which every Region baby boomer knows is the main street running through Hammond.

Opportunity Enterprises new CEODavid Stupay, who relocated to Northwest Indiana, admitted he had never seen, “The Christmas Story,” until he moved here.

“I don’t think I was accepted until I started to say I absolutely love, ‘The Christmas Story,’ and now I am accepted as part of the Northwest Indiana Community,” Stupay said.

“I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of what you have going on here,” Stupay continued. “OE is just starting to move into Lake County and we just bought our first respite home in Merrillville. As we grow and expand from Porter County into Lake County we’re excited to partner with such great institutions here and meeting new wonderful people.”

Opportunity Enterprises is a non-profit organization that serves people with physical and mental disabilities throughout Northwest Indiana, helping them to become self-sufficient  and lead fulfilling lives.

OE serves about 1,600 clients in Northwest Indiana, said OE’s Director of Development Linda Hazen.

“We offer different programs such as day services, supported living, group homes, jobs source and social enterprises,” Hazen said.

OE also recently purchased its own apartment building Lakeside, at Lake Eliza.

“It is a day service and our first apartment building owned by us,” she said.

OE also recently launched its new Simply Amazing Market Website, offering attractive holiday gift packages of assorted flavors of fudge and popcorn made by ONE's clients.    

Bill Wellman, one of the original board members of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, was on hand for the unveiling.

“I tell you, the movie is growing,” Wellman said. “This is show business at its best.”

The “A Christmas Story” Comes Home display will be open through January 5, and includes a giant slide like the one from the movie. Santa will be on hand weekends beginning November 29 and special movie-themed events are scheduled.

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