Tonawanda News

December 5, 2012

'A Christmas Story' actor coming to NT

By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — An actor in the iconic holiday film “A Christmas Story” will be coming to the Riviera Theatre this weekend. 

Ian Petrella is best known from the film as the main character Ralphie’s snowsuit-clad little brother, Randy Parker. Petrella has spent the last three decades since the 1983 movie was first produced taking small parts in shows like “Who’s the Boss” and “Beverly Hills 90210,” and has been involved with post-production work and animation.  

Petrella’s agent, Tim Bendig, said “A Christmas Story” wasn’t initially that popular and was only presented in movie theaters for approximately two weeks, before it eventually crept into the cultural mainstream and became a fixture, with 24-hour marathons viewed by the masses around the holidays. 

But it was the long-time fascination with the movie by North Tonawanda firefighter Joe Lavey that is bringing Petrella to the Lumber City Sunday. 

Lavey, who is president of the Sweeney Hose Fire Company, said he had been watching “A Christmas Story” since it first came out and met Petrella once before. When he saw a Facebook posting in the spring that the actor was looking to show the movie in small local theaters, he thought immediately of the Riviera and shot out a quick e-mail. 

“A week later his agent called,” Lavey said, of Bendig. “He said ‘the Riviera is exactly the type of place that we’re looking for’ and he asked me to be the promoter for the event, so we decided to make this a fundraiser for the Riv and the fire company.” 

But Lavey took it a step further, tracking down the fire truck used in the scene where Ralphie’s friend Flick gets his tongue stuck to a flag pole. It was easier than Lavey expected, with the vehicle now owned by another fire company in Ontario, Canada.

Now both Petrella and the 1930s fire truck will be on hand. 

While Petrella will donate two Red Ryder BB guns to raffled off and give an insider’s presentation of the film at 2 p.m., the fire truck will be available earlier in the day for photo opportunities and rides around downtown. 

Lavey said the proceeds will benefit his outfit and the Riviera Theatre. 

Pre-sale tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children. The fire truck rides will begin at 12:30 p.m. Sunday while Petrella’s presentation will start at 2 p.m. inside the Riviera. 

IF YOU GO • WHAT: A screening of "A Christmas Story" with actor Ian Petrella, who played Ralphie's little brother Randy • WHEN: 2 p.m. Sunday at the Riviera Theatre, 67 Webster St., North Tonawanda • COST: $10 for adults, $5 for children at the theater box office, 692-2113

Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.