Tonawanda News —
The Canal Fest of the Tonawandas on Tuesday will have a member of the iconic film "A Christmas Story" leading its annual parade.
Ian Petrella, an actor best known for his role as Ralphie Parker's younger brother, Randy, has agreed to serve as the Grand Marshal of the event and will sit atop a Twin City Ambulance float.
Joe Lavey, president of Sweeney Hose Fire Company in North Tonawanda, first brought Petrella to the area in December for a showing of the movie at the Riviera Theatre.
Lavey said the two became quick friends and made plans for a follow-up event this winter as part of the movie's 30th anniversary tour. Lavey said he then approached Petrella to see if he would participate in the Canal Fest, with the theme of the parade called "celebrate the holidays."
"I asked him as a personal favor to come as part of the movie's anniversary tour," Lavey said. "He jumped on it. Last year, he couldn't believe how beautiful the theater was and how great the fans were."
Lavey, who is a huge fan of the movie, said his entire family will be getting involved in the parade with his son dressing as the character Ralphie and his daughter as Randy, while his wife will be "wearing a pink bunny suit" reminiscent of a famous scene from the film.
In addition to Petrealla's appearance next week, Lavey said Petrella will also be bringing along five other cast members from the movie on Dec. 14 for another showing of "A Christmas Story" at the Riviera Theatre.
He is currently working on drumming up sponsorship for the event, which will include an expanded agenda over last year.
"I can't remember any of the parades having a movie star as the Grand Marshal," Lavey said of the annual Canal Fest event that draws thousands of revelers to the Twin Cities. "It's always been a local politician or someone from the news media. I hope it really boosts our event coming up this winter."