Each year, around the 2nd week in December, Seneca Falls celebrates its claim to be the setting for the movie It’s a Wonderful Life with a weekend of themed activities like “It’s a Wonderful Run 5K“, “It’s a Wonderful Parade”, “It’s a Wonderful Bonfire”, “It’s a Wonderful Breakfast”, a giant cinnamon bun eating contest, chestnuts roasting, costumed characters strolling, horse-drawn wagon rides, and a screening of the movie, just to name a few! Even Janie, ZuZu, and descendants of the movie’s cast come to partake in the festivities! December 2016 marks the 70th anniversary.
From their website, “Seneca Falls is widely believed to be the inspiration for Frank Capra’s holiday classic, “It’s A Wonderful Life”. Come to Seneca Falls and visit the village and locations that inspired Mr. Capra in his visits to Seneca Falls in the early 1900’s. Stand on the bridge that Jimmy Stewart’s character leaped from in the movie. Visit in December to take part in the weekend festivals that celebrate our connection to the holiday classic.”
The Similarities between Bedford Falls and Seneca Falls
- Seneca Falls and Bedford Falls are both mill towns.
- Seneca Falls had a grassy median same as the one George runs down in Bedford Falls with a movie theater located off to the side.
- Both communities boast Victorian Architecture and a large Italian population.
- The location is perfect: George’s sister-in-law’s father owns a glass factory in Buffalo, NY.
- 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 train ran through Seneca Falls just as it did in Bedford Falls.
- The Bedford Falls High School was dedicated in 1927 the same year as the old Mynderse Academy was dedicated.
- In the film, 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. It is still known as Rumseyville today.
- A local businessman named Norman J. Gould owned Gould Pumps, and was one of the richest men in town. He drove his car with license number NJG1. Norman Gould also had great control over politics and economics of the area. Much as Mr. Potter did in the movie. Norman could send someone to fight in the military or retain them for his factory.
More information about It’s a Wonderful Life in Seneca Falls
- Cost: Varies by activity, many are free
- Located in Seneca Falls, roughly 50 minutes / 50 miles from Rochester (get directions)
- More information: therealbedfordfalls.com/, wonderfullifemuseum.com
While you’re in Seneca Falls, there is so much more to see!
Visit Cayuga Lake
Take a slow drive through Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge
Step back in history at the Women’s Rights National Historical Park, one of the 10 Best New York Attractions
Visit the Presbyterian Church at 23 Cayuga Street.
On its front steps, Alice Paul – President of the National Women’s Party – first read her originally proposed Equal Rights Amendment.