Seneca Falls, NY, April 17, 2018 ——When Antonio Varacalli, an Italian immigrant working in Seneca Falls, saw a woman drowning in the Cayuga and Seneca Barge Canal on April 12, 1917, he immediately jumped in to rescue her. Although Antonio saved her life, he drowned.


The Town of Seneca Falls will remember Antonio Varacalli on April 21, 2018 with a ceremony on the Bridge Street Bridge at 11 am, which will include a reading of the Antonio Varacalli Day Proclamation, a Heroes Blessing by Rev. Leah Ntuala of First Presbyterian Church, a presentation of local history and the ringing of The Bells of Bedford Falls.


The annual Antonio Varacalli Hero Award will be presented to Paul Wenderlich of Seneca Falls, who  has many noble qualities and achievements that would qualify him as a hero,” said Paula Coffey who nominated her father.  “He has been a wonderful example of selflessness to aspire to.”  The award recognizes Paul’s volunteer work for Boy Scouts, Literacy Volunteers, American Red Cross, It’s A Wonderful Life Festival, Seneca Community Players, Seneca Falls Zoning Board, Office for the Aging, and St. Patrick’s Church, which he does from his heart” Coffey added.

Encouraged by Principal Amy Hibbard, and Superintendent Bob McKeveny, more than 50 students from Elizabeth Cady Stanton School participated in this year’s Antonio Varacalli Essay contest, sponsored by the It’s A Wonderful Life Committee.  Three winning essays were chosen for each grade.


This year’s question posed to 3rd, 4th and 5th graders was – How have you, or how might you, be a “Good Citizen” by making a difference in someone’s life at home, in school or in your community?

Prizes and awards will be distributed on the bridge and all of the submitted essays will be displayed on the Wall of Heroes at the Seneca Falls Community Center during the Chicken BBQ, Saturday which coincides with the ceremony


First Place

  • 3rdgrade – Emily Brown   Teacher – Kacie Smith
  • 4thgrade – Jeffry Alvaro   Teacher – Melissa Woodard
  • 5thgrade – Nickoli Jensen   Teacher – Carey LaVoie

Second Place

  • 3rdgrade – Raelynn Marie Davis  Teacher –  Kacie Smith
  • 4thgrade – Nathan Phothirath  Teacher – Natalie Hare
  • 5thgrade – Darien Hendrix  Teacher – Nicole Hubbell

Third Place

  • 4thgrade – Cade Wyant  Teacher – Natalie Hare
  • 5thgrade – Adrian Picchi  Teacher – Nicole Hubbell


The Winning Essays —— as written by the students 


I have made a difference in someones life several times. One time special to me was when I introduced myself to a new student who looked very nervous. From there I invited her to sit with me at lunch and I gave her a lot of compliments hoping to make her happy and feel welcomed. My goal was to make her smile and become friends, and now we are!

by Emily Brown Grade 3



Hello my name is Jeffry Alvaro. I feel I am a good citizen because i help the community to support our veterans. I live with a Vietnam veteran who has shared some of his stories,and taught me to be respectful.I help put flags on the graves for memoral day,go to pow/mia ceremonies and attend flag ceremonies on flag day. I help stuff christmas stockings for VA hospital and hand out flags and pencils with my grqndma at school when she teaches us about the flag. I check on sick veterans when I can. One of witch was my favorite but now is gone and i miss him a lot. I will love and be there for them when i’m am needed.

by Jeffry Alvaro Grade 4



In 1917 Antonio varacalli of Seneca Falls tried to save a woman from drowning. He’s a regular guy who was willing to help somebody who needed help.

I’m just a kid but I am trying very hard to become a good citizen

I am anti-bullying. I did my DARE project on bullying.

There are three kinds of bullying. They are verbal , physical, and cyber.

My project was about how bystanders can become Heroes by getting involved just like Antonio Varacalli. One time I saw a bully grab an kid’s backpack and push him down. I went over and helped the kid up. I asked if he was OK. He was upset but felt better when someone helped him. If we see someone who needs help, we should do whatever we can do to help them.

Another way of being a good citizen is through my working with Boy Scouts to make a difference and get good character and sportsmanship. 2 years ago our troop lost its Pinewood Derby track. Even though even though I was only 9 years old I felt sad that we didn’t have one and none of the adults volunteered to help. I said I wanted to do the project and get a new one so for 2 years I wrote letters and try and get donations. I used my own money so I could buy stamps and envelopes. I raised $1,200. Even though I am too old for the derby I am still helping to get the last bit of money we need.

Now the younger Scouts will be able to have their own Pinewood derbies. At my last derby I was surprised when I won the sportsmanship trophy. Everyone said I had set a good example when I didn’t care my car was almost last and showed the sad kids it was ok to just have fun and not worry about winning. Plus I voted for other kids cars in the contest and not mine. And i helped out with the chores.

As a Boy Scout we also earn badges and pins   I have to prove I’m a good citizen in my community in my country  and in the world  in my community I have to learn about history and government. I have to pick projects or work with charities m police and firemen or with parks.  I have to learn to respond with first aid so I can respond in an emergency. I have to take care of the environment and clean up the trails. I put flags on the veteran’s graves and I rang the church bells when they read the veteran’s names on memorial day. I collect cans for the food pantry. As a citizen to my country I work to help other citizens rights. I watch the news and sometimes write to politician. It is important to stand up for people’s rights And even protest when things are wrong. To be a good citizen of the world I learned about other cultures and countries. But it all starts with being a good person and doing the right thing to help other people right here in Seneca Falls.

If you help your parents at home or mow your grandparents lawn, or if you stand up to bullies at school or collect food for the poor people in your community you are making a big difference. Anytime you do something to help, big or small, you make a difference as a citizen.

by Nickoli Jensen Grade 5



Joining the ceremony for the first time this year will be a Brass Ensemble from the Seneca Falls Community Band.  The event will end with a flower ceremony followed by a Chicken BBQ dinner and the Wall of Heroes at the Community Center, 35 Water Street.


The BBQ will be available at the Community Center from 10 – 1 pm with eat-in and take-out service available. Dinners are $10 each and will benefit the It’s A Wonderful Life – Antonio Varacalli Day Committee.