Gary Brennan has his own “Christmas Story” to tell this holiday season, and it’s one that shows both the best and worst of the human spirit.
Brennan, the owner of Yankee Spirits Liquors in North Tonawanda, is reeling from the theft of the iconic leg lamp from his front-window display that pays homage to the classic movie “A Christmas Story.”
News of that larceny last Thursday has gone viral, hopping from Buffalo television stations to the New York Post, the Daily Mail in London, the Associated Press and “Good Morning America,” among other media outlets.
Brennan knows what he’d tell the thief: “Why would you want to steal part of my Christmas? Steal a bottle of vodka, but don’t steal part of my Christmas.”
At the same time, Brennan is astounded by the response to the theft.
“It’s been overwhelming,” he said. “It just shows how much this lamp and this story mean to people.”
A store surveillance camera caught the well-planned theft, which occurred at about 5:05 p.m. Thursday. The man, wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, hat and sunglasses, is seen walking into the store and waiting until the nearest employee’s attention was diverted.
“He looked around, looked around, looked around, grabbed it and took off,” Brennan said. The thief even had a driver waiting for him.
One employee ran outside, and a customer gave chase, but neither of the partial license-plate numbers they got matched up.
The lamp – in the shape of a leg wearing a fishnet stocking from the 1983 movie classic – has been in the liquor store’s front-window holiday display for about a dozen years.
“It’s just always been a part of the store,” Brennan said.
Struck by the brazen theft, Brennan is buoyed by the response.
“It’s become a touching story,” he said. “It doesn’t make me feel bad at all. It makes me feel good. It shows people’s warmth toward Christmas, the lamp and the movie.”