Skip to content
Home » Seneca County » Seneca Falls » It’s a Wonderful Life Festival begins tonight in Bedford Falls: Full slate of events through the weekend

It’s a Wonderful Life Festival begins tonight in Bedford Falls: Full slate of events through the weekend

The day many residents near and far wait for all year has arrived: The start of the 2023 It’s a Wonderful Life Festival.

The 21st annual edition of the festival dedicated to the holiday classic is set to begin in hours, with a weekend full of activities.

DiSanto Propane (Billboard)

The event, attracting fans and cast members alike, will commence this evening with a block party and continue through the weekend. There will be lectures, film screenings, and autograph signings.

Among the attendees will be Karolyn Grimes, who played little ZuZu Bailey in the film. At 83, Grimes returns to the festival alongside fellow cast members Jimmy Hawkins (“Tommy Bailey”) and twins Don and Ron Collins (“Young Pete Bailey”). Also participating are Mary Owen, granddaughter of Donna Reed (“Mary Bailey”), and Monica Capra Hodges, granddaughter of director Frank Capra.

Hawkins was inside the FingerLakes1.com Studio yesterday afternoon.

The festival’s lineup features several notable events, including a screening of the documentary “The Real Bedford Falls – It’s a Wonderful Life” at Trinity Church on Friday. On Saturday, filmmaker John Kuri will present his film “Emile ‘Emilio’ Kuri: His Remarkable Life,” a tribute to his father, the set decorator for “It’s a Wonderful Life.”


2022 It’s a Wonderful Life Festival Photo Gallery by Bryan Chang


The festival will also feature the “It’s a Wonderful Parade,” where residents will dress as characters from the film, followed by the “It’s a Wonderful Run 5k” in the afternoon.

Looking for a full rundown of events? Check it out below or visit their website!

Thursday, December 7: 

6:00 — 8:30 pm: “There’s a Moon Out Tonight.” Welcome Reception with the Actors from “It’s a Wonderful Life” and other Special Guests. Sponsored by the Cayuga Nation and the It’s a Wonderful Life MuseumThe Gould Hotel, 108 Fall St.

Friday, December 8

9:00 am: Press Conference [Accredited press only].  It’s a Wonderful Life Museum76 Fall St.

9:00 am — 4:00 pm:  Bedford Falls Station Postal Cancellation.  Seneca Falls Post Office, 38 State St.

9:00 am — 9:00 pm: “All Things Wonderful” – Visit the It’s a Wonderful Life Museum Gift Shop; Free Photo Opportunity with the “You Are Now in Bedford Falls” Sign. IAWL Gift Shop, 80 Fall St.

10:00 am — 4:30 pm: Visit the It’s a Wonderful Life Museum. Raffle tickets available for the It’s a Wonderful Quilt. IAWL Museum, 76 Fall St.

10:00 am: “Every Time a Bell Rings . . . In Memory of Menzo Case.” Bridge Street Bridge.

10:30 am: “Bread, Salt & Wine” Housewarming event in association with Habitat for Humanity and the actors from “It’s a Wonderful Life.” 33 Taylor Ave., Waterloo, NY. (Check back to confirm address)

11:00 am — 1:00 pm:  Autograph signing by Cast Members– Karolyn Grimes (“Zuzu Bailey”), Jimmy Hawkins (“Tommy Bailey”) and Donald Collins (“Little Pete Bailey”).  Autographs free with purchase; $30 fee for items you bring yourself.  The Gould Hotel, 108 Fall St.

11:00 – 11:30 am: The Real Bedford Falls – It’s a Wonderful Life.”  Emmy-award winning documentary co-produced and co-directed by Francis DiClemente and Stu Lisson on the history of the connections between Seneca Falls and Bedford Falls.  Features actors from “It’s a Wonderful Life,” film historians and local residents.  Trinity Church, 27 Fall St.


11:30 am:  Video tour by Brian Rohan of locations in Los Angeles County where “It’s a Wonderful Life” was filmed including:  The Martini House; Stage 14/Culver City Studios; Site of the RKO Ranch; and Beverly Hills High School. Trinity Church, 27 Fall St.

11:30 am – 12:30 pm: Autograph signing and information on the Donna Reed Foundation by Mary Owen (Donna Reed’s daughter). Seneca Falls Heritage & Visitor Center, 89 Fall St.

11:45 am: “The Shop Around the Corner.”  Radio play featuring Brian Rohan as Jimmy Stewart. Trinity Church, 27 Fall St.

12:30 -1:30 pm:  “Bedford Falls 1919 to 1945:  A Closer Look at How the Town and People Grow Over the Decades.”  Presentation by author Michael Willian. Trinity Church, 27 Fall St.

1:30 – 2:30 pm:  Presentation by Mary Owen, Donna Reed’s daughter.  “The Geisha Girl” — Groundbreaking episode of The Donna Reed Show featuring Umeki Miyoshi (the first East Asian American woman to receive an Academy Award for acting) will be shown.  Trinity Church, 27 Fall St.

2:00 — 4:00 pm:  Autograph signing by Cast Members Karolyn Grimes, Jimmy Hawkins and Donald Collins. (Autographs free with purchase; $30 fee for items you bring yourself). The Gould Hotel, 108 Fall St.

2:30 – 3:30 pm: “Tell YOUR Story.” Presentation by Chloe Rosen, Mrs. New York 2023. An actor, writer, social media influencer and marathon runner, Chloe Rosen promotes the philosophy that one voice can change the world. A coach for the international organization “Girls on the Run” she states: “Forward is forward. It doesn’t matter how fast you go.” Trinity Church, 27 Fall St.

2:30 – 3:30 pm:  Autograph signing by Michael Willian, “The Essential It’s a Wonderful Life.  A Scene-by-Scene Guide to the Classic Film.”  Seneca Falls Heritage & Visitor Center, 89 Fall St.

3:30 — 4:30 pm: “What does wellness look like: The Eight Dimensions of Wellness” sponsored by United Way of Seneca County/Seneca County Suicide Prevention Coalition. Trinity Church, 27 Fall St.

3:30 – 4:30 pm:  Autograph signing by Pamela McColl, author, “Twas the Night: The Art and History of the Classic Christmas Poem. Seneca Heritage & Tourism Center, 89 Fall St.

4:30 pm:  Registration and Silent Auction start at Del Lago Resort, prior to the Frank Capra Preview Dinner.

5:00 pm:  Shuttles start leaving The Gould Hotel for the Preview Dinner.

6:00 — 9:00 pm:  Frank Capra’s Preview Dinner. MC: Monica Capra Hodges.  Advance Tickets Required.  Del Lago Resort, located off Exit 41, NY State Thruway.

Saturday, December 9: 

7:30 — 11:00 am: It’s a Wonderful Breakfast.  Pancakes, eggs, sausage, o.j., coffee. Tickets $10 at the door.  Trinity Church, 27 Fall St.

9:00 am — Noon:  Bedford Falls Station Postal Cancellation.  Seneca Falls Post Office, 38 State St.

9:00 am — 4:30 pm:  Visit the It’s a Wonderful Life Museum. Raffle tickets available for the It’s a Wonderful Quilt. IAWL Museum76 Fall St.

9:00 am – 9:00 pm: “All Things Wonderful” – Visit the It’s a Wonderful Life Museum Gift Shop. Free Photo Opportunity with the “You Are Now in Bedford Falls” Sign.  IAWL Gift Shop, 80 Fall St.

9:30 – 11:00 am:  Autograph signing by Pamela McColl, author, “Twas the Night: The Art and History of the Classic Christmas Poem.  Seneca Heritage & Tourism Center, 89 Fall St.


10:00 am:  20th Annual George Bailey Award – Presented by Karolyn Grimes on behalf of the IDEA Center for the Voices of Humanity.  Trinity Church, 27 Fall St.

10:30 am:  Presentation by Monica Capra Hodges – Frank Capra’s granddaughter.  Trinity Church, 27 Fall St.

11:00 am — 1:00 pm: Autograph signing by Cast Members: Karolyn Grimes (“Zuzu Bailey”), Jimmy Hawkins (“Tommy Bailey”) and Donald & Ronald Collins (“Little Pete Bailey”). Autographs free with purchase; $30 fee for items you bring yourself. The Gould Hotel, 108 Fall St.

11:30 am:  “Emile ‘Emilio’ Kuri: His Remarkable Life.” – A Film by John Kuri, son of Emile Kuri, Two-Time Oscar Recipient and Set Decorator for “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  Mr. Kuri will introduce his film and answer questions about his father’s work with Frank Capra, Walt Disney, Alfred Hitchcock, William Wyler, George Stevens, Cary Grant and many more.  Trinity Church, 27 Fall St.

1:00 pm:  It’s a Wonderful Parade.  Sponsored by the It’s a Wonderful Life Festival Committee.  Fall Street.

1:30 — 2:30 pm:  “From Here to Eternity”.  Presentation by Mary Owen, daughter of Donna Reed, on her mother’s Academy Award winning performance in this 1953 film.  Trinity Church, 27 Fall St.

1:30 — 2:30 pm: Autograph signing by Michael Willian, “The Essential It’s a Wonderful Life. A Scene-by-Scene Guide to the Classic Film.” Seneca Falls Heritage & Visitor Center, 89 Fall St.

2:00 — 4:00 pm:  Autograph signing with Cast Members Karolyn Grimes, Jimmy Hawkins & Donald Collins.  Autographs free with purchase; $30 fee per autograph for items you bring yourself.  The Gould Hotel, 108 Fall St.

2:30 — 3:30 pm:  “Enduring Holiday Classics That Keep On Giving.”  Presentation by author Pamela McColl about why the iconic film It’s a Wonderful Life, celebrating its 77th Anniversary in 2023, and the ever-popular poem Twas The Night Before Christmas, turning 200 this year, have remained at the very heart of the holiday season generation after generation.  Trinity Church, 27 Fall St.

3:00 — 4:00 pm: Autograph signing and information on the Donna Reed Foundation by Mary Owen (Donna Reed’s daughter). Seneca Falls Heritage & Visitor Center, 89 Fall St.

3:30 — 4:00 pm: The Shop Around the Corner.”  Radio play featuring Brian Rohan as Jimmy Stewart.  Trinity Church, 27 Fall St.

4:40 pm: It’s a Wonderful Run 5K.  To register, go to: https://itsawonderfulrun5k.com/register/

6:30 — 7:30 pm:  Dance Lesson by Groove Juice Swing (from Rochester).  Mynderse Academy Gymnasium, 105 Troy St.

7:00 — 9:15 pm:  Special Screening of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  Free Admission. Douglas Avery Performing Arts Center, Mynderse Academy, 105 Troy St.

7:30 — 10:30 pm:  “Dance by the Light of the Moon.” Music by Andy Stobie and the Greater Finger Lakes Jazz Orchestra (18-piece swing band).  Free Admission.  Mynderse Academy Gymnasium, 105 Troy St.

Sunday, December 10:

8:30 — 10:30 am:  “A Toast to Karolyn . . .” — Karolyn Grimes’ 21st Anniversary Celebration Breakfast.  Arrive by 8:45 to secure your seat.  The Gould Hotel, 108 Fall St.  SOLD OUT

9:00 am — 4:30 pm:  Visit the It’s a Wonderful Life Museum. Raffle tickets available for the It’s a Wonderful Quilt. IAWL Museum,76 Fall St.

9:00 am – 4:30 pm: “All Things Wonderful” – Visit the It’s a Wonderful Life Museum Gift Shop; Free Photo Opportunity with the “You Are Now in Bedford Falls” Sign. IAWL Gift Shop, 80 Fall St. — 11:30

11:00 am – 2:00 pm:  Autograph Signing with Cast Members Karolyn Grimes, Jimmy Hawkins & Donald Collins.  Autographs free with purchase; $30 fee per autograph for items you bring yourself.  The Gould Hotel, 108 Fall St.


11:00 — 11:30 am:  “A Very Merry Christmas” – Classic episode of “The Donna Reed Show” featuring Buster Keaton. Introduced by Mary Owen (Donna Reed’s daughter). Trinity Church, 27 Fall St.

11:30 am — Noon:  The Real Bedford Falls – It’s a Wonderful Life.”  Emmy-award winning documentary co-produced and co-directed by Francis DiClemente and Stu Lisson on the history of the connections between Seneca Falls and Bedford Falls.  Features actors from “It’s a Wonderful Life,” film historians and local residents.  Trinity Church, 27 Fall St.

11:30 am – 12:30 pm: Autograph signing by Michael Willian, “The Essential It’s a Wonderful Life. A Scene-by-Scene Guide to the Classic Film.” Seneca Falls Heritage & Visitor Center, 89 Fall St. 

12:00 pm:  Video tour by Brian Rohan of locations in Los Angeles County where “It’s a Wonderful Life” was filmed including:  The Martini House; Stage 14/Culver City Studios; Site of the RKO Ranch; and Beverly Hills High School.  Trinity Church, 27 Fall St.

12:15 pm:  “Notes from Little Pete.”  Presentation by Donald Collins and Ronald Collins, the twins who played “Pete Bailey” as a baby.  Trinity Church, 27 Fall St.

12:30 –1:30 pm:  “Mr. Potter, Uncle Billy, and the Other Jimmy.”  Presentation on Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell and the “other Jimmy” by Sal. St. George, Sal St. George Living History Productions – Home of Celebrity Museums & Destinations.  Trinity Church, 27 Fall St.

1:30 — 2:30 pm: “The Magic of Set Decorations in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. A Closer Look at What Makes Your Favorite Scenes so Captivating.” Presentation by author Michael Willian. Trinity Church, 27 Fall St.

2:30 pm:  “Creating Bedford Falls – The Impact of Emile Kuri on ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’” Conversation with Jimmy Hawkins (“Tommy Bailey”) and John Kuri (Filmmaker, Son of Emile Kuri – the Set Decorator for “It’s a Wonderful Life”). Trinity Church, 27 Fall St.

3:30 — 4:00 pm:  “The Bishop’s Wife” – Working with Cary Grant, Loretta Young and David Niven.  Presentation by Karolyn Grimes (“Zuzu Bailey”).  Trinity Church, 27 Fall St.

4:15 pm:  The Bells of the Real Bedford Falls.  Gather at 32 Fall Street across from Trinity Church to hear the bells ring throughout town in honor of those who have impacted our lives.

4:30 pm:  Seneca Singers Holiday Concert.  First Presbyterian Church, 23 Cayuga Street.

4:30 pm:  Shuttles start leaving The Gould Hotel for the Final Scene Dinner.

6:00 — 9:00 pm:  “For Auld Lang Syne – The Final Scene Dinner.”  Seneca Falls Country Club. SOLD OUT.