CHICKASHA, Okla. — An Oklahoma town has been brought back to life, all thanks to a “fragile” Christmas decoration.
Chickasha —a town just southwest of Oklahoma City — is now internationally known due to a 50-foot leg lamp that sits in the heart of the town. The lamp received its fame from the movie “A Christmas Story.” And FOX23 Evening Anchor Sara Whaley traveled to Chickasha to learn how the town is using its connection to the iconic lamp to create a Christmas story of its own.
Close to 40 years after “A Christmas Story” was released, a massive statue of the iconic leg lamp sits right at the end of Main Street in Chickasha. The decoration brought visitors from across Oklahoma, the U.S. and beyond.
“It’s actually very surprising that we came out here to see it,” said one boy visiting Chickasha with his family. “Because it’s a lamp!”
But to the town’s residents, the lamp is so much more.
Karen Lennier has lived in Chickasha her entire life, and she told FOX23 she’s happy to see so many visitors.
“They are eating here. They are staying here,” she explained.
Visitors are also shopping in Chickasha. For Lennier, who works at a small boutique just one block from the attraction, the shoppers make a huge difference.
To honor the decoration, the boutique decorated their storefront to serve as a tribute to “A Christmas Story.”
FOX23 looked it up and learned the original lamp was just about 4-feet tall. The one in the heart of Chickasha is more than 10 times that size. FOX23 crunched the numbers, and it would take more than 13 of those original lamps to reach the top of Chickasha’s lamp.
While visiting the town, FOX23 ran into fellow Green Country folks who were in awe of the lamp.
“We are from Sand Springs, Oklahoma,” said one visitor. “I think it’s awesome. I think it’s a lot of fun, worth the trip. Worth the drive over here.”
The lamp’s creator, Tim Elliot, told FOX23 he wanted a landmark to be known for. The only reason he proposed the leg lamp was because he simply liked the movie “A Christmas Story.”
“I could have been any of those characters,” Elliot said. “I was the little boy dreaming about the BB gun because I’ve done that. I could have been the dad, crap, I could have been the mom.”
Elliot explained in 2017, when he pitched the idea of the leg lamp, the town thought it was a shocker as well.
“Everybody said it’s never going to happen,” he recalled.
It wasn’t until 2020 that he learned Chickasha had a true connection to the iconic lamp. University of Oklahoma (OU) professor and Chickasha native Noland James created the original leg lamp.
According to Elliot, the people of Chickasha were surprised to learn from James’ obituary that he had a leg lamp in his office. And a man — who later was on the production team for “A Christmas Story — often stopped by to see James and talk about the lamp.
However, if you look at the website for “A Christmas Story” House and Museum, it says one of the writers dreamed up the leg lamp himself after seeing a lit up soda bottle.
But Elliot said, in Chickasha, they still believe the idea was James’.
“It was one of his students,” Elliot told FOX23. “So he wanted credit for it and didn’t get it. So we are giving him credit.”
Chickasha Director of Economic Counsel and Chamber of Commerce Jim Cowan said, “We actually put a QR code that people can scan and understand.”
“So this is the beginning of what will become a $10 million,” he continued. “This first phase was $1.4 million that we raised here locally.”
Phase two will be building a park.
“What we did, we visited fantastic parks in Tulsa,” Cowan explained. “And Scissortail Park in Oklahoma City. And we looked at different components and different amenities. Of course, what we are doing is to a much smaller scale here in Chickasha. But we don’t want it to be a traditional park at all. We want people to walk in and go ‘Are we really in Chickasha, Oklahoma?’”
Cowan explained the park will be around nine acres and honor other important people with ties to the area.
“Who’ve broken down racial or gender barriers and have done some really great things,” he told FOX23.
They eventually want to build an amphitheater and walking and jogging trails as well. Cowan said the town is looking to put their best foot forward as they look to the future.
“When a small bookstore on the corner that’s three blocks from here post on Facebook. ‘Oh my gosh, we had a record weekend.’ And it was people coming in for the leg lamp. That’s the story,” he said.
Elliot said when he looks at the leg lamp, it inspires him.
“It reminds me of Eleanor Roosevelt, who said ‘Never let anybody tell you no who doesn’t have the ability to tell you yes.’”
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