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A Christmas tradition in Seneca Falls

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: A Christmas tradition in Seneca Falls
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Christmas season in one Central New York village means remembering a classic Christmas film. YNN's Bill Carey says fans are gathering in Seneca Falls to share the belief that...it's a wonderful life.


SENECA FALLS, N.Y. -- Count Shawnn Henderson as a fan of "It's A Wonderful Life." Her parents first introduced her to the Christmas classic when she was a young girl. She loves the movie so much, her grandchildren call her Zuzu.

This weekend, as a surprise, her husband brought her from their home near Dallas, Texas to Seneca Falls for the annual "It's A Wonderful Life" celebration.
“When we drove into town last night I just burst into tears. Just automatically. Because it's such an emotional connection. You love your family so much and you take it for granted and the movie reminds you of that,” said Shawnn Henderson.

Shawnn and other fans come to see surviving cast members like Carol Combs-Mueller who played George Bailey's daughter, Janie. And Karolyn Grimes, who played Zuzu, and has visited Seneca Falls at Christmas for 11 years.

“This movie is a part of so many people's lives that it doesn't surprise me anymore. Because it's just one of these wonderful things that happen. Like a wave of goodness. And it comes from this film, totally,” said Grimes.

There is still a debate among researchers over the town's claim that a visit here by director Frank Capra gave him the idea for the look and feel of Bedford Falls. What's become less and less important as the years go on is whether this bridge and this village were really the inspiration behind "It's A Wonderful Life."

More important has been the oasis created here, each Christmas season. An oasis in the midst of a troubled world.

“You know, I think this movie. We all know the ending. And I think it gives a lot of hope because there's a lot of difficult times in the movie, but you can get through them, because you know the ending. And I think that gives hope for the ending in all of our lives,” said Anwei Law, “It's A Wonderful Life” Museum.

Hope for the future and a connection to what many here see as a better past.

“I just watch it and just forget about all the other troubles. Anything else in the world. And think about my beautiful grandchildren and my wonderful family. Your heart just gets bigger and bigger and bigger. It's wonderful,” said Henderson.

Events celebrating "It's A Wonderful Life" continue in Seneca Falls through Sunday.

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