It’s a Wonderful Life festival in Seneca Falls goes virtual: ‘The pandemic provided George Bailey moments’

Local News

SENECA FALLS, N.Y. (WROC) — The Town of Seneca Falls is getting ready to kick off the annual It’s A Wonderful Life festival but the streets won’t be packed with 17,000 people this year like usual. As many events have done this year, they’re going virtual.

“This pandemic has provided the opportunity for a lot of George Bailey moments.”

Anwei Law, founder of the It’s A Wonderful Life museum, described a George Bailey moment as one where people come together. That’s exactly what she’s hoping will happen this weekend.

“If you don’t have a crisis, you don’t have a George Bailey moment, so we look at it that way and this festival a lot of people have come together to create this virtual festival,” Law said.

Law said for decades, people in Seneca Falls have noted similarities between their town and the film’s fictional town of Bedford Falls. She said the director of the film came through Seneca Falls in November 1945 while promoting the movie in New York City.

“We think that he got the feeling of the town and on our bridge there’s a plaque,” she said. “You think about that plaque and those words, ‘he honored the community, the community honors him,’ it sounds like the final scene.”

To keep this historic resemblance alive the virtual festival will go on feating a full schedule of presentations from actors, Zoom plays, and the awarding of the George Bailey award. One thing missing though, is the traffic at small businesses. Christine VanDusen owns CV designs. She said this is just pressing pause on the tradition.

“There’s been a big movement for supporting local and we’ve had a lot of people from Buffalo, Rochester coming to visit and they all ask about the movie when they’re here so it has kind of been a season long celebration not just a weekend,” VanDusen said.

Law is gearing up for next year’s big 75th anniversary of the film but for now, “It’s really a good example of people coming together, of people creating a weekend that will hopefully lift people’s spirits and make them feel not as bad about not being here.”

To participate, you have to register online. A full list of the weekend’s events can be found here.

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