By Lauren Kirchmyer
Do you love the movie “A Christmas Story?” Do you love learning about how movies are made and meeting the actors who bring stories to life on film? The Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda has the perfect event for you.
Fans will have an “A Christmas Story” experience like never before on Saturday, Dec. 12 thanks to Joe Lavey Jr. and his company Carrousel Promotions.
“Ian Petrella put up a post in 2012 looking to bring the movie to small town theaters for fans,” Lavey Jr. said. After reaching out to Petrella, who played little brother “Randy” in the movie, Lavey Jr. was able to bring a few actors from the film to the Riviera Theatre for a small question and answer session and a viewing of the movie.
The first event was a hit and fans requested for it to return for 2013. Lavey Jr. agreed and brought the movie and its actors back to the theatre to celebrate the 30th anniversary of “A Christmas Story.” Six actors attended and once again the fans had great things to say.
“The city is great. Everyone is really nice,” said Petrella, who works as an actor and puppeteer.
Lavey Jr. decided to take a break from the event for 2014 … but the fans were upset and begged for its return. Once again Lavey Jr. agreed, but only if he could re-vamp the event and make it bigger and better than before. Petrella was on board once again and agreed change is good, especially when it comes to the fans who return year after year.
“My thing is if I’m coming back, I have to have something that’s new or different for everybody,” Petrella said.
The first new aspect of the event gives fans the opportunity to ride the original fire truck from the movie that rescued “Flick” when his tongue was stuck to the flag pole.
“The school scenes were filmed in St. Catharines, Ontario,” Lavey Jr. said. “The truck used is located in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and it will be brought over to the heater for people to ride on.”
“They flew us to Canada first class,” recalled Yano Anaya, who played bully “Grover Dill” when he was only 10 years old. “It was my first time in Toronto. I saw Niagara Falls. It was an amazing experience.”
The fire truck rides begin at noon. At around 1 p.m., fans will take a seat in the theater for an “A Christmas Story” talk show featuring six of the film’s actors, who will share behind-the-scenes scoop on the movie.
“We’re setting up the stage like it’s Christmas morning in the movie,” Lavey Jr. said. “There is so much stuff people haven’t heard about. It’s a full two-hour show.”
Scheduled to appear are Petrella, Anaya, Zack Ward (“Scut Farkus”), Scott Schwartz (“Flick”) and R.D. Robb (“Schwartz”). This is Robb’s first appearance at an “A Christmas Story” event since filming the movie.
“We’re like brothers. I love getting together with them,” Anaya said.
Fans in attendance will also be able to Tweet questions to the actors, which will be read by the talk show’s host, author Caseen Gains.
At 3 p.m., “A Christmas Story” will be shown on the big screen. When the movie concludes, fans will have the chance to purchase merchandise, meet the actors and get autographs.
“The guys really enjoy talking with the fans,” Lavey Jr. said. “They give an amazing personal experience.”
“This movie has been part of two to three generations now,” said Anaya, who currently works as the program director of a personal trainer program in Atlanta. “It’s an honor to be able to have been a part of people’s lives.”
The event totals to about five hours in length, but only costs $24 per person! To learn more or to purchase tickets, visit http://www.rivieratheatre.org/event/a-christmas-story-event-2015/.