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National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation has slowly but surely asserted itself as a holiday classic over the 25 years of its existence. It's gotten to the point where perennial favorites like It's A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story occasionally square off in public opinion polls with the 1989 holiday marathon staple. Much like those other two classics, the fandom of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation has inspired an ingenious fan to bring some of the magic into the real world... or at least the New Jersey Parkway.
ABC News reported that a merry holiday prankster changed the exit sign for GSP 135 to read "Clark Griswold," instead of the normal "Clark / Westfield" on that particular exit. The sign was changed as some point on Christmas eve/ early Christmas morning, and was only up for part of the day, until the New Jersey Turnpike Authority removed the humorous National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation reference and restored things to business as usual. Of course, with all good pranks, someone was there with a camera and the photos made their way around the internet, as you'll see in the tweet above from NBC Chicago.
If you needed any further sign that National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is a Christmas flick for the ages, then your search is now officially over. It might not be a museum like the one that A Christmas Story has in Cleveland, Ohio; but it's still a pretty good indicator that Clark Griswold won't be fading away from the public consciousness any time soon. Interestingly enough though, this prank was originally thought to be fake. At least, it was until Sgt. Gregory Williams of the New Jersey State Police confirmed to the media that yes Virginia, someone did make a joke out of a Garden State Parkway sign. Thankfully, no criminal proceedings are being pursued, and everyone has taken this jolly little joke in good form, further testifying to the power that Clark Griswold has over the Christmas holiday season.
Of course, who knows if this National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation gag will be a one off event, or if will inspire those behind it to try their luck at springing this joke again this same time next year. Or, things could get even more interesting, and other towns with the name Clark could see themselves under the same comedic spell as New Jersey. Whatever happens next, at the very least it's a really funny sight gag that will more than likely make it into plenty of 2014 news wrap ups all across the country.
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is available on Blu-ray and DVD, and should probably make its way into your New Year's Eve movie marathon. If you're looking for some more Griswold fun, you should read our coverage of Rolling Stone's oral history of this comedy classic. And don't forget about next year's National Lampoon's Vacation reboot, set for release on October 9th, 2015.