The story of Noland James, A Christmas Story, and the award-winning Chickasha Leg Lamp.
Noland James (1931-2020) was born in Chickasha and made it his home for most of his life.
While serving in the Air Force, Noland discovered his passion for education, and after his honorable discharge, he went to the University of Oklahoma. After earning degrees in Mechanical Engineering, Painting, and Design, he began his thirty-year teaching
career at OU Art School. He was voted Teacher of the Year in 2001.
"The Art School required teachers to also produce their own art. Early in his career, Noland used an old mannequin that had been lying around the Art School to make a project: from the bottom half he made a leg lamp and from the torso he made a waste basket. They were on view in his fourth-floor office until he retired. A man seeking employment at the school became tantalized with the lamp and came by Noland's office many times to look at it and ask about how it was put together—he nearly took it apart to see how it was made. A few years later, this same man was on the production team that produced the leg lamp from a hosiery leg for a 1983 movie. Noland always felt his lamp was the prototype for the one in the movie—A Christmas Story."
—Noland James' obituary, The Chickasha Express-Star, 7-30-2020
Noland was an active member of the Chickasha community and one of the creative minds behind the Festival of Lights. He created many of its large, major elements still in use today. He also made projects for downtown Chickasha and First Baptist Church.
The first Chickasha Leg Lamp debuted in the 2020 holiday season at the end of Chickasha Avenue. The 40-foot inflatable drew nationwide and even international attention, with coverage from content creators, to national news networks, to business conferences. With the lamp driving tourism, sales in Chickasha increased sharply, even compared to previous holiday seasons.
The temporary attraction won two awards the following June at the Oklahoma Travel Industry Association's Redbud Awards, earning the Redbud Award for Outstanding Media Coverage and the Merit Award for Outstanding New Attraction. The lamp returned for Christmas in July in 2021 and the 2021 holiday season.
The new Leg Lamp stands over 50 feet tall and is the centerpiece of Phase One of the new downtown park, maintained by the Chickasha Community Foundation and funded by private donors. It was designed by Midwest Cooling Towers and made of fiberglass. The area surrounding the lamp has been designated as the Science & Arts Art Plaza and will feature art displays curated by the university.
See the original!
Noland's "prototype" is on display at the Grady County Historical Society, located at 415 W. Chickasha Avenue.
In The News
Oklahoma town celebrates its 'A Christmas Story' ties with new 50-foot leg lamp statue
Inspired by local legend, a 50-foot-tall recreation of the iconic "A Christmas Story" leg lamp — complete with a black high heel, fringed lampshade and box marked "fragile" — has become a permanent statue.