Christmas Classics with a dash of local flavor

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I’ve always loved Christmas movies and specials. But I’m the first to admit they can get a little stale.

So I’m developing ideas for updating a few of the classics, giving them a little local flavor. Some have been focus group-tested. None have been tested on animals. I’m not that cruel. Here are a few concepts, offered in the lighthearted spirit of the season.

“Rudolf the Red Light Camera” — Cedar Rapids city officials order Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to install a traffic enforcement camera on his bright, red nose. Mayor Corbett asks, “Rudolph, with your nose so bright, won’t you collect some fines tonight?”

“The TIF that Saved Christmas” — Faced with rapid ice melt caused by climate change, Santa moves his workshop to a TIF district in Hiawatha. He renames his operation Go Santa! Mrs. Claus objects when Santa hires a scantily clad Danica Patrick to drive his sleigh. See what happens next at

“Frosty’s Festive Commute” — Tragedy strikes when Frosty the Snowman playfully leads local children through the streets of downtown Cedar Rapids, but melts before he can get through all the new four-way stops. Will a cold snap bring him back in time for Christmas?

“National Lampoon’s Christmas Nuisance” — Clark Griswold finally gets his dazzling Christmas lighting display to work, but his home is swiftly designated as a Tier 2 nuisance property under chapter 22A of the Cedar Rapids Nuisance Property Code. He now has 10 days to remove 25,000 imported Italian twinkle lights. Where’s the Tylenol?

“Miracle on First Avenue” — A precocious, skeptical little girl finds the magic of belief and the power of faith when she discovers, with the help of a kindly, well-paid consultant, that a city-owned hotel and convention center really can turn a profit.

“We Three Kings, Over Jacks” — A group of wise men travel westward, searching, hoping for a great miracle. But will the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission really grant them a casino license?

“You Bet Your Wonderful Life” — Old man Potter, incensed by the Christmas generosity that saved George Bailey, opens the “Big Bets-Ford Falls Casino.” Now townspeople bring their money to him, too. In a stirring scene, someone exclaims, “A toast to Mr. Potter’s. The loosest slots in town.” And every time a bell rings, it’s all-you-can-eat wings at Clarence’s buffet.

“A Christmas Carol 2012” — Three Christmas spirits decide to skip the all-night drama and simply hook Bob Crachit up with the winning Powerball numbers. Cratchit sends Scrooge a goose, and his immediate resignation.

“The Christmas Secret” — University of Iowa President Sally Mason is picked by the Board of Regents to run the university’s Secret Santa effort this year, after showing how truly skilled she is at not disclosing anything.

“A Terry Branstad Christmas” — The gang puts the governor in charge of the state Christmas play, as Linus delivers a poignant monologue on the true meaning of Christmas. Branstad is so inspired that he vetoes tax credits for the working poor and gives big bonuses to top department heads.

“The gift of the Hack-I” — Local columnist has to take over for Santa and can’t write a Christmas Day column. “On Drivel, on Snark, on Lame Metaphor and Cliche! Away!” Readers rejoice.


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