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Varacalli will be awarded Carnegie Hero Fund Medal at ceremony Saturday in Seneca Falls

On Saturday, April 15, the community will recognize the heroism of Antonio Varacalli, the Italian immigrant who died while saving a young woman from drowning in the Cayuga-Seneca Canal April 12, 1917.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

For his heroism, Varacalli was posthumously awarded the Carnegie Hero Fund Medal.

People are invited to gather on the Bridge Street bridge at 11 a.m. Saturday for the ceremonies.

The day’s event will begin with a color guard of Seneca Falls First Responders and Scouts, accompanied by the drummers of the Bedford Falls Mediocre Marching Band.  The ninth annual Antonio Varacalli Heroism Award will be presented to Michael Kelly.

“Grief can make most people uncomfortable” said Allison Kelly, one of Mike’s daughters who nominated him, “our father made it his life’s mission to make it as bearable and dignified as possible – always putting his “families” first.”

The award recognizes Mike’s dedication of over 30 years helping people in the Seneca Falls community and his participation in many local charities, events and organizations.

“We are thrilled to be giving the ninth annual Antonio Varacalli Hero Award to Mike,” said Haidee Oropallo of the It’s A Wonderful Life/Antonio Varacalli Day Committee.

“Mike’s compassion and eagerness to help people from all walks of life is admirable,” she said.

More than 60 students from Elizabeth Cady Stanton School participated in a heroes essay contest writing about a person who has influenced their life.  The contest is sponsored by the It’s A Wonderful Life Committee in concert with Principal Amy Hibbard. Awards and certificates will be presented on the bridge to nine students from 3rd, 4th & 5th grades.

The essay winners are:


  • 1st Place – Ava Pinckney – Teacher, Anthony Noone
  • 2nd Place – Fiona Shore – Teachers, Nichole Brady & Barbara Robinson
  • 3rd Place – Tegan Griffith – Teachers, Nichole Brady & Barbara Robinson


  • 1st Place – Dylan Tompkins – Teacher, Scott Sciera
  • 2nd Place – Paige Connolly – Teacher, Scott Sciera
  • 3rd Place – Ada Sinicropi – Teacher, Scott Sciera


  • 1st Place – Parker Reinwald – Teacher, Stacey Alessio
  • 2nd Place – Finnegan Clemenson – Teachers, Carey Lavoie & Teresa Ehresman
  • 3rd Place – Randi Polite – Teacher, Tricia Goodenough

All of the winning essays will be available for viewing at

The day will also include a reading of the Antonio Varacalli Day proclamation by Deputy Town Supervisor Kaitlyn Laskoski, a heroes blessing by Rev. J. Brad Benson of Trinity Episcopal Church and the ringing of the Bells of Bedford Falls.

The Mynderse Accademy Chorus will perform, and the ceremony will conclude with the releasing of flowers into the canal and a visit by Sprinkle Starship.