One wonderful weekend every year, Seneca Falls turns into Bedford Falls. But this year the festival has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"The It's a Wonderful Life Festival Committee has decided it would be irresponsible to hold an event which would bring thousands of people together, so we have cancelled the Festival for 2020," the committee shared. "We will spend this time preparing for next year when it will be the 75th anniversary of the movie."

Many believe Seneca Falls, New York was the inspiration behind the iconic Christmas movie 'It's a Wonderful Life' and the town changes it's name to Bedford Falls every year for the 'It's a Wonderful Life Festival.' Surviving actors from the film even come to town to celebrate.

Photo by Mira Earls

Karolyn Grimes, who played George Bailey's daughter in the movie, steps back in time every year at the festival. “When I came around the corner and saw Seneca Falls’ main street, I gasped and said, ‘This is Bedford Falls!’”

Photo Credit - Henry Law

Main street isn't the only similarity between Seneca Falls and Bedford Falls. The Bridge Street bridge where Antonio Varacallit tried to rescue a woman who jumped in 1917 is the same place George Bailey jumped to save his angel Clarence. “It is nearly a replica of the same bridge that George Bailey had grown up with all his life," said Grimes.

Photo Credit - Henry Law

There are also rumors the man behind the movie, Frank Capra stopped in Seneca Falls for a haircut in 1945. Many believe he crossed the bridge and saw the plaque honoring Varacalli as a sign for his new movie home. Capra never confirmed Bedford Falls was inspired from Seneca Falls but there are too many coincidences to ignore....

*Both mill towns
*Seneca Falls had the same grassy median that George runs down
*Both have Victorian Architecture and a large Italian population
*George’s sister-in-law’s father owns a glass factory in Buffalo
*Bailey’s friend Sam wants to build a soybean processing plant outside of Rochester
*The bank examiner wants to get back to Elmira on Christmas Eve
*The Bedford Falls High School was dedicated in 1927 the same year as the old Mynderse Academy was dedicated
*The Bailey’s Savings and Loan Association builds low cost housing called Bailey Park. In Seneca Falls, 19th Century factory owner John Rumsey helped immigrant workers by lending them money and building low cost housing

There's even a museum....

Photo Credit - Henry Law

The festival ends every year with the ringing of the bells to honor those who have left an impact on the community.

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