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Antonio Varacalli Day: A celebration of heroes essay contest and awards

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  • Staff Report 

Seneca Falls residents are being asked to nominate a person perceived by their friends and neighbors as a “good citizen and hero” to receive the 2024 Antonio Varacalli Day Award.

Each year the Town of Seneca Falls honors and remembers Antonio Varacalli, an Italian immigrant who while working on April 12, 1917, on the Cayuga and Seneca Barge Canal, saw a woman drowning and immediately jumped in to rescue her. Although Antonio saved her life, he drowned while doing so. Antonio’s extraordinary civilian heroism was recognized posthumously with a bronze Carnegie Hero Fund Medal.

The Town of Seneca Falls will honor and celebrate some of its local heroes on Saturday, April 13, 2024 at 11:00am on the Bridge Street Bridge. The ceremony will start with a procession of members of the police, fire and sheriff departments, girl scouts, boy scouts and Bedford Falls Mediocre Marching Band Drummers to the Bridge Street Bridge. The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission’s Investigation Report will be read, the Mynderse Academy Chamber Singers will perform, and a Hero’s Blessing will be given.  This year we are thrilled that Antonio Varacalli’s great-great nieces Shelley Farrell and Madelyn Justian, will also be part of the ceremony.  The Antonio Varacalli Day Proclamation will be read, the Bells of Bedford Falls will ring and the event will end with a flower ceremony.


The theme “How have you, or might you, be a “good citizen” by making a difference in someone’s life” has been chosen as a topic for the essay contest which Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s students have been invited to participate in. The children in grades 3, 4 & 5 will be writing about being a“good citizen”.  Winners from the essay contest will be awarded prizes during the ceremony.

Additionally, non-profit organizations are invited to choose a “Community Angel”from their organization to be honored during the event. This person will have shown to be an invaluable member, going above and beyond in the organization that they are a part of. To nominate a citizen for the Antonio Varacalli Award, or to honor an individual from an organization, forms can be picked up in Seneca Falls at Downtown Deli – 53 Fall Street or  WomanMadeProducts – 91 Fall Street, or by visiting therealbedfordfalls.com/antonio-varacalli-day/.  All nominations must be received by Friday, March 29.

Welook forward to coming together as a community to honor these local heroes andcelebrate their inspiring contributions. Join us as we pay tribute to theircourage, compassion, and unwavering dedication.

AntonioVaracalli Day is a project of the It’s A Wonderful Life FestivalCommittee.  For more information on the Celebration and ways you can be involved, contact [email protected].