Photos From Freezone’s Trip to the It’s a Wonderful Life Festival
'It's a Wonderful Life' is my favorite movie. Yeah it's old and it's corny, but the meaning behind the movie is what makes it my favorite.
In years past I would always hear about the weekend festival in Seneca Falls, or as they call it there, the real Bedford Falls, a week or so after it happened. So this year, I got online ahead of time and found out that they always hold the festival on the second weekend in December. So this year Chris and I made plans to go and we went this past Friday.
Seneca Falls is a quiet little town about an hour and 45 minutes Northwest of Binghamton. We made it to Seneca Falls ahead of the crowd and got a parking spot right out front of the It's a Wonderful Life Museum.
The museum itself is small but it is packed with pictures, actual script, and some of the props that were used in the movie. After taking several photos inside the museum and seeing every display they had
to offer, we headed across the street to the library where some of the surviving actors were to be holding an autograph session. We were a couple hours early for that so we decided to go to a cute little restaurant up the street called Bee's Knees.
The restaurant sold ginger snaps called Zuzu's Ginger Snaps. At one point in the movie, James Stewart refers to Zuzu as his little ginger snap. One of the reasons we went there was because we heard Karolyn Grimes, the actress that played Zuzu was supposed to be there starting at 9. We got there around 9:45 and Karolyn had already left. So we bought some of the Zuzu Ginger Snaps and visited some of the other stores in Seneca Falls.
We went further up the street and around the corner to the bridge. Now this is not the actual bridge that was used in the movie 'It's a Wonderful Life', but this is the bridge that the movie set was modeled after.
Then walked back down to the library for the autograph session and realized we are still 45 minutes early. So we went back to Bee's Knees and ate lunch. We got back back to the library four minutes before they opened the doors and the line was down the street.
Once they unlocked the doors at the library, everyone was allowed inside to get out of the windy weather. Inside was Karolyn Grimes, (Zuzu), the woman who played the young Violet Bick at Gower's Drugstore, Jeanine Roose, Carol Coombs who played the piano playing Janie Bailey, and Jimmy Hawkins who played the youngest son Tommy Bailey.
We waited in line to meet each of the actors and get their autographs, and we even had our pictures taken with Carol and Karolyn.
Each of them are now well into their seventies and even early 80s, were very pleasant and friendly. Jimmy told Chris and me a couple quick stories about what he remembered while filming It's a Wonderful Life. Chris asked Carol, Janie Bailey, if she really knew how to play the piano or if they just taught her Hark the Herald Angels Sing for the movie. And she said with a great big smile on her face, “oh no, I know how to play the piano, but I play the ukulele more nowadays because it's easier to carry around”. We all got a nice laugh out of that. After meeting Zuzu and telling her how much the movie meant to me we made our way back outside and decided to head back home.
To be honest I kind of expected more at the festival, but I was told that Saturday is the big day not Friday. And there more things going on later in the afternoon at different buildings in town, but we didn't hang around to check those out.
If you enjoy 'It's a Wonderful Life' like I do, you should really make the trip. I would definitely go back and check it out again.