Santa Claus will not be the only celebrity coming to town this holiday season.
Five cast members from the iconic holiday movie “A Christmas Story” will be in the area this Friday, and their first stop will be starring in Highland’s annual Christmas parade.
“We’re excited to have the Greenville Chamber’s float in our parade this year, featuring cast members from ‘A Christmas Story.’ Their screening on the 25th should be a great evening and is definitely something exciting for our region,” said the Highland Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Nancie Zobrist.
The evil elves (Patty Johnshon and Drew Hocevar), Flick (Scotty Schwartz), Grover Dill (Yano Anaya) and everybody’s favorite Christmas bully Scut Farkus (Zack Ward) will be riding on the float. The Greenville Chamber of Commerce initially invited the actors to Greenville’s “Come Home for Christmas Christmas” event on Saturday, Nov. 25, and in the spirit of the season of giving, decided to spread the love to Highland.
“I think the biggest thing is, is that it is going to bring our community together. Christmas time is such a fun time, and so to have a little added touch to bring us all together, will be exciting,” said Greenville Chamber of Commerce Director Kayley Woker.
A word from Scut Farkus
During a phone interview, Ward (Scut Farkus) said that events like the ones in Highland and Greenville are just one of the continual perks of being involved with such an iconic film from a young age.
“That’s one of the joys, is flying into a new city that I have never been to before and meeting the people there and getting to know a place I would have never had the opportunity to discover on my own,” Ward said. “I’ve been sort of spoiled by all the kindness of the locals. It’s an amazing experience.”
Ward was cast as the mischievous, raccoon-hide-hatted bully when he was 13-years-old. Since it was released, Ward said the movie has been named one of the most important films of the the last century, alongside movies like “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “Citizen Kane.”
“It’s an incredible experience, and everywhere you go, people treat you like you’re a long-lost uncle, and they welcome you with open arms,” Ward said.
Ward said that he has stayed close with his other cast members, and meetings like the Highland and Greenville events are always a great reunion.
“Scotty Schwartz, who played Flick, and Yano Anaya, who played Grover Dill, they are like my brothers. We have known each other for 35 years now. I don’t know how many 35-year-long friendships you have, but they are rare, and they are worth gold,” Ward said.
Besides living up to the Farkus name, Ward still works in front of and behind the camera. He has both directed and produced movies. Recently, he also worked on an episode of the TV show “Swedish Dicks” with Keanu Reeves and Peter Stormare. He is also writing his own series called, “Fracture,” which he says is like a “Mad Max”-styled, young adult sci-fi.
Meet the cast
The cast members will arrive in in the area on Friday and will go straight to Highland to particpate in the Lighted Christmas Parade, which starts at 6:30 p.m. After the parade, the cast will head back to Greenville for its main event on the next day.
On Saturday, starting at 3:30 p.m., the cast will be at a meet-and-greet in the auditorium at Greenville High School, located at 1000 Illinois 140. At the school, there will also be a screening of “A Christmas Story,” with celebrity interactions. The event will cost adults $10, kids ages 6-12 are $7, and children 5 years and under are free.
After the showing, the cast will particapte in Greenville’s lighted Christmas parade. The parade steps off from Greenville Elementary School, located at 800 N. Dewey St. at 6:15 p.m., and will travel up College Avenue to the Greenville square, where there will be a court house lighting ceremony at 7 p.m.
Afterward, guests will have a chance to get a picture with Santa and Mrs. Claus. There will also be a booth where movie cast members will be signing autographs for a fee.
“Come on out and say, ‘Hello.’ Bring your kids, and I’ll give them all bloody noses,” Ward joked. “Nothing says Christmas like getting punched in the face by Scut Farkus.”