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71st Anniversary Celebration of “It’s a Wonderful Life” in Seneca Falls

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Mark your calendars, It’s a Wonderful Life in Seneca Falls this December 8th, 9th and 10th! 

You know I love the movie It’s a Wonderful Life , in fact, it is a holiday tradition in our house to watch it, but after last years visit to Seneca Falls for the It’s a Wonderful Life Festival, I am making the trip to Seneca Falls part of our holiday tradition!

The setting of It’s a Wonderful Life which was produced by Frank Capra is just as significant as the characters. The small picturesque village with streets lined with large Victorian houses during Christmas in the 1940’s provided the perfect backdrop to the movie. While Mr. Capra never publically acknowledged that Seneca Falls is the Real Bedford Falls, the similarities and are hard to deny.  Mr. Capra set Bedford Falls in New York State. Rochester, Buffalo, and Elmira are all mentioned in the movie and referenced as being fairly close. All three of these locations are an easy drive from Seneca Falls. And then there’s the Bridge Street Bridge, it is almost identical to the steel truss bridge in the pivotal scene when George is at his most desperate state.  Even though there is very little in the way of hard evidence to support the claim that Seneca Falls was the inspiration for Bedford Falls, any fan of the film will know it instantly the first time they visit, and Seneca Falls has wholeheartedly embraced this sentiment.

This year marks the 71st Anniversary Celebration of It’s a Wonderful Life, and the small village is pulling out all the stops again. The three of the four surviving “Bailey children” — Karolyn Grimes (Zuzu), Carol Coombs-Mueller (Janie) and Jimmy Hawkins (Tommy), and for the first time ever Jeanine Roose who played Young Violet Bick will be in town. Last year, My husband and I were at the opening press conference, and the atmosphere was that more of a homecoming, for both the actors who are now in their 70’s and the locals who seem to have embraced the “Bailey Kids” as misplaced Seneca Falls natives. Grimes, Mueller, and Hawkins all agree there is something special about Seneca Falls.

Last year, My husband and I were at the opening press conference, and the atmosphere was that more of a homecoming, for both the actors who are now in their 70’s and the locals who seem to have embraced the “Bailey Kids” as misplaced Seneca Falls natives.

The It’s a Wonderful Life Festival runs through Sunday evening with events planned all weekend. The small town has attracted large crowds and visitors from across the nation. Last year met a nice couple from Wisconsin, a woman from Indiana, and a family from Ohio at the cake cutting reception. If you are in town for the festivities or thinking about taking a drive out this is definitely a worthwhile getaway.


While in Seneca Falls

If you find yourself in-between events during the festival there are plenty of other things to see and do in the area.


Grab a bite to eat 

It was cold and windy when we were there and the forecast looks like more of the same, a hot bowl of soup and sandwich from Sauder’s sure hit the spot for our lunch, you can also get groceries, snacks or peruse the massive amount of bulk foods.  If you are feeling a swankier the Gould has a nice beautiful restaurant. Cafe XIX is a local favorite serving up reasonably priced soup, salads, and sandwiches.

 Where to Stay

My top picks for lodging (based on historical interest, atmosphere, and ideally located for activities):

National Brand Hotels in Seneca Falls

Depending on the availability of rooms in Seneca Falls it may also be worthwhile to check out lodging in Geneva (about 15 minutes away)


Woman’s Rights

The first convention for Woman’s Rights was held in Seneca Falls in 1848. You can visit the convention site, at the Wesleyan Chapel, within walking distance is the National Woman’s Hall of Fame and the Women’s Rights National Historical Park, all are interesting sites of historical importance, worthy of a visit.

My husband & Myself with Brian Rohan of Los Angeles, as “George Bailey”

For more information and event details visit the official  It’s a Wonderful Life Festival Website.  

As always, I do my best to provide relevant and accurate information regarding events. With any event, dates and times are subject to change, please confirm dates, times, and availability before attending an event. Events are posted on Home in the Finger Lakes from information found on, but not limited to, attraction sites, government city sites; as well as submissions from individual attractions, press releases, and PR firms. All events are subject to change without notice and Home in the Finger Lakes cannot be held responsible.

Visiting Ameele's Farm in Marion, NY
Feeling Festive

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