A wonderful weekend set in Seneca Falls

For years the community of Seneca Falls, New York has attracted attention as the likely inspiration for the fictional town of Bedford Falls in the 1946 film classic, “It’s A Wonderful Life”. The real life story of a local man named Antonio Varacalli has been thought to be influential in key scenes in the movie. The Seneca Falls It’s A Wonderful Life Festival takes place annually during the second weekend in December.This year’s festival runs from December 13-15 and features the “Bailey Sisters,” actresses Karolyn Grimes who portrayed little Zuzu and Carol Coombs-Mueller who portrayed Janie, together with Donna Reed’s daughter, Mary Owen. Also appearing will be Artist Yakovetic and Bob Welch, author of “52 Little Lessons From It’s a Wonderful Life.” Other featured events will include the “Bedford Falls Station” holiday postmark, screenings of the movies “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “The Bishop’s Wife,” special presentations, autograph signings (autograph included with purchase or $10/autograph), and “Merry Christmas George Bailey,” an old time radio play based on the 1947 Lux Radio Theatre. Also returning are fan favorites, such as the annual “Dance by the Light of the Moon,” free horse-drawn carriage rides, characters on the street, roasted chestnuts, and Uncle Billy’s Scavenger Hunt. There are many events highlighting food from local restaurants including “A Taste of Bedford Falls”, “It’s A Wonderful Breakfast,” Ma Bailey’s Hot and Hearty cook-off, “An Evening at Bailey Park,” and Zuzu’s Holiday Brunch. There will be crafts for kids, Santa Claus, Gingerbread Bedford Falls, Christmas concerts, raffles, and the popular “It’s A Wonderful Run” 5K, which last year attracted more than 3,000 participants. An ever growing event each year is the Grand Parade. We are honored to have our own Police Chief Stuart Peenstra serve as Grand Marshal. This year’s It’s A Wonderful Parade is going to be commentated by local radio host Ken Paradise from the WALL 99.3, and DJ company Paradise Entertainment. Leading the parade will be Sergeant Sue Hawker, followed by over 20 groups including characters from the movie, the Stepping Stone Angels, the Rising Stars, American War Dogs, a dog show by Brody’s Boot Camp, and a very special appearance by the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile!The community and visitors alike come out to show their appreciation for local fire department volunteers, the New York State Police, scouts and athletic groups, as well as members of the Knights of Columbus and the VFW Color Guard. At 1 p.m. on December 14, the parade will wind its way over Ovid Street Bridge, down Fall Street, and finishing across the iconic truss bridge. Apart from the celebrities, “Wonderful” events and a plethora of food and treats to tantalize even the most discerning taste buds, is the abundant and wide range of memorabilia, souvenirs and keepsakes for sale. Being showcased for the first time this year are two special offers worth noting. For the first time an It’s A Wonderful Life Festival Passport is available. As you experience “The Real Bedford Falls” the passport highlights the many links between Seneca Falls and Bedford Falls. Throughout your passport you will find 18 spots to place the stickers and stamps you collect as you visit the various places in town.In Frank Capra’s inspiring movie “It’s A Wonderful Life,” the message to us is that everyone makes a difference. At some point in everyone’s life there is a person who has touched you and changed your life forever. An angel sent at the right time. Now you can “Give an Angel wings everyday” with the Genuine Polish Crystal Bell. This unique gift measures 7” x 3” and has “It’s A Wonderful Life Seneca Falls . . . The Real Bedford Falls” engraved upon it.This year the Crystal Bell is being combined in a package with the traditional end of festival Bell Ringing celebration. Combine the purchase of the Crystal Bell with the Bells of Bedford Falls and have a bell rung for your “Angel” at the close of the “It’s A Wonderful Life” celebration on December 15. The bells throughout the Real Bedford Falls will ring in recognition of those individual angels. You will receive a certificate with the honoree’s name, as well as yours, along with your Crystal Bell. The festival begins on Friday, December 13th at 9 am and ends on Sunday afternoon with Christmas carols and the Bells of the Real Bedford Falls.The schedule of events and other information may be found by visiting the event website at www.therealbedfordfalls.com.It is a WONDERFUL weekend.

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