A Hopewell Township couple who won an eBay charity auction for $5,250 to spend Christmas in the Cleveland house where "A Christmas Story" was filmed says the experience was worth it.
Linda Campagna and Tom Streib had hoped that one or two of their three daughters would be able to join them on the trip, but it ended up being just the two of them. Members of the family are big fans of the 1983 classic holiday flick. Campagna and Streib are also both retired military, so they wanted to donate to the Wounded Warrior charity that the auction supported.
Tom Streib said the best part of the experience was "actually getting there, driving up and knowing that's the house."
It didn't hurt that they were chauffeured around town in a 1938 Oldsmobile. Or that the guy who delivered the crate labeled "FRA-GI-LE" was the same person who did in the movie.
He lives in the neighborhood and was drafted as an extra, Campagna explained.
In the museum across the street, they perused original props and costumes from the movie. Christmas Eve, they dined at a local Chinese restaurant. Although Campagna chose filet mignon chops with ginger over the "Chinese turkey" Peking duck, Streib was all about making his "A Christmas Story" meal an authentic one.
"I had never had it before -- and I probably won't have it again," he said. "It's not all it's cracked up to be."
Streib said restaurant staff did not chop off the duck's head like in the movie -- "It was kind of an upscale place."
When they returned to the house, they settled in to watch the movie while people drove by the place, beeping the horn, yelling and taking pictures of the leg lamp in the window. "A lot of people knew we were staying at the house," Campagna said.
The local FOX news affiliate visited them both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to film segments for their broadcasts.
Campagna said her favorite moment was coming down the stairs Christmas morning, seeing the presents under the tree and having a pretty good idea of what they all were.
They took to the backyard to shoot the Red Ryder BB guns just like Ralphie did in the movie and completed their stay with visits to the nearby Rock 'n' Roll and Pro Football halls of fame.
"It was wonderful," Campagna said. "We had so much fun."
Streib said when he told people of his plans for the holiday, he got one of two reactions: "Those who were not familiar with the movie asked why I would want to go and do that," he said. "Those who were said, 'That's so cool. I wish I could go.'"
ABOUT THE AUCTION
eBay Giving Works -- the charitable arm of the online auction site -- approached Brian Jones, who owns the house where "A Christmas Story" was filmed, about putting together a holiday package to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the iconic 1983 movie's release.
Jones got local businesses to donate their products and services so all the money from the auction could benefit The Wounded Warrior Project for veterans.
Winning bidders Linda Campagna and Tom Streib of Hopewell Township got the following:
· Airfare for up to four people from anywhere in the lower 48 states to Cleveland
· Two-day, two-night stay for four at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel
· Christmas Eve accommodations for four at the "A Christmas Story" house.
· Christmas Eve dinner for four provided by Pearl of the Orient Chinese restaurant
· Christmas Day dinner for four provided by Sans Souci, a fine-dining restaurant in the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel
· $200 stipend for food and beverages during the stay
· Duration of auction: 10 days (Nov. 17 to 27)
· Starting bid: $9.99
· Winning bid: $5,250
· No. of bidders: 15
· No. of bids: 33
ABOUT THE FAMILY
Members: Thomas Streib, 47; Linda Campagna, 48; Jamie Streib, 24; Kari Streib, 21; Kate Campagna, 21
Residence: Thomas and Linda live in Hopewell Township
Employer: Thomas and Linda are both employed by The Boeing Co.
Favorite part of the movie: When the hounds come in and take the Christmas turkey.
ABOUT THE FILM
Starring: Peter Billingsley as Ralphie Parker
Plot summary: Ralphie Parker, a 9-year-old boy living in 1940, wants nothing more than a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas and is out to convince everyone around him he should get it.
Billed as: A Tribute to the Original, Traditional, One-Hundred-Percent, Red-Blooded, Two-Fisted, All-American Christmas