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Organizers prepare for thousands to pour into Seneca Falls for It’s a Wonderful Life weekend

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  • Staff Report 

Every December for nearly 20 years, Seneca Falls is transformed into the fictional town of Bedford Falls, to celebrate Frank Capra’s beloved film, It’s a Wonderful Life. This year is no different. The Festival Committee has been working non-stop for months to plan for the 76th anniversary of the film’s release. This year’s festival will feature 3 days of festivities beginning Friday, December 9th through Sunday, December 11th.

Visitors should begin their visit to the It’s a Wonderful Life Festival at the Festival Welcome Center, 60 Fall St., where they can pick up a program for the weekend’s activities and purchase tickets for special events as well as shop for IAWL memorabilia. Also at the Welcome Center visitors can view and try to win one of the two dozen beautiful hand decorated wreaths donated by Seneca Falls merchants, some containing valuable merchandise and gift certificates. Also on display is the $500 money tree donated by Generations Bank to be raffled as a benefit for the Seneca County House of Concern.

Karolyn Grimes who played the part of Zuzu in the movie will return to Seneca Falls for her 20th visit to make presentations and be on hand to sign autographs as will others related to the film. The It’s a Wonderful Life Museum will be open displaying, photos, and artifacts from the movie and is hosting many opportunities to meet others associated with the movie.

While at the Festival, visitors can take free horse drawn wagon rides through downtown and catch one of the many free showings of the It’s a Wonderful Life movie both in black & white and the colorized versions along with short films about the making of the movie.

On Friday evening in People’s Park on Water St., the Community Bonfire will take place. Featured will be: music provided by the Calvary Chapel Worship Band, ‘Harry’s Hots’ food concession, the announcement of the It’s a Wonderful Holiday Lights Contest winners, and the arrival of Santa Claus by fire truck. Mrs. Martini’s Pasta Dinner and Movie Trivia will be held at the American Legion with musical performances by Cady Stanton student choir and Mynderse Academy Chamber Singers.

Saturday’s It’s a Wonderful Parade, led by this year’s Ruth Dakin Bailey Grand Marshal – Ann Sandroni, will include The Bedford Falls Mediocre Marching Band along with dozens of community groups and organizations. The It’s a Wonderful Run 5K race will begin on the iconic Bridge Street Bridge, similar to the bridge George Bailey jumped from in the movie. Participants will pass historic homes lit for the holiday season and complete the run through downtown Fall St. on the way to the finish line at the bridge. Before, during or after the race, visitors can enjoy a chicken dinner at Bert and Ernie’s Famous Chicken BBQ.

Sunday will feature the Bedford Falls Express train rides, the Brass Ensemble and Uncle Billy’s Wonderful Scavenger Hunt. Additional events throughout this year’s Festival include, IAWL characters on the street, live performances of Merry Christmas, George Bailey!, the IAWL Participation Movie, Cheers to Broadway – a live cabaret show, Dance by the Light of the Moon to an 18 piece Swing Band and much more!

“The It’s a Wonderful Life story reminds us that we each make a difference in other people’s lives, and shows us that we each have more similarities than differences.” said Haidee Oropallo, President of the It’s a Wonderful Life Festival Committee. “as Clarence the Angel in the film says, – No Man is a Failure who has Friends”

For the full Festival schedule, visit the official Festival website: