On Saturday, April 15, the community  recognized the heroism of Antonio Varacalli, the Italian immigrant who died while saving a young woman from drowning in the Cayuga-Seneca Canal April 12, 1917. For his heroism, Varacalli was posthumously awarded the Carnegie Hero Fund Medal.

People gathered on the Bridge Street bridge at 11 a.m. Saturday for the ceremonies.The day’s event began with a color guard of Seneca Falls First Responders and Scouts, accompanied by the drummers of the Bedford Falls Mediocre Marching Band.  The ninth annual Antonio Varacalli Heroism Award was presented to Michael Kelly.

“Grief can make most people uncomfortable” said Allison Kelly, one of Mike’s daughters who nominated him, “our father made it his life’s mission to make it as bearable and dignified as possible – always putting his “families” first.’’

The award recognizes Mike’s dedication of over 30 years helping people in the Seneca Falls community and his participation in many local charities, events and organizations.

“We are thrilled to be giving the ninth annual Antonio Varacalli Hero Award to Mike,’’ said Haidee Oropallo of the It’s A Wonderful Life/Antonio Varacalli Day Committee.

“Mike’s compassion and eagerness to help people from all walks of life is admirable,’’ she said.

More than 60 students from Elizabeth Cady Stanton School participated in a heroes essay contest writing about a person who has influenced their life.  The contest is sponsored by the It’s A Wonderful Life Committee in concert with Principal Amy Hibbard.

Awards and certificates were presented on the bridge to nine students from 3rd, 4th & 5th grades.


1st Place – Ava Pinckney – Teacher, Anthony Noone

2nd Place – Fiona Shore – Teachers, Nichole Brady & Barbara Robinson

3rd Place – Tegan Griffith – Teachers, Nichole Brady & Barbara Robinson


1st Place – Dylan Tompkins – Teacher, Scott Sciera

2nd Place – Paige Connolly – Teacher, Scott Sciera

3rd Place – Ada Sinicropi – Teacher, Scott Sciera


1st Place – Parker Reinwald – Teacher, Stacey Alessio

2nd Place – Finnegan Clemenson – Teachers, Carey Lavoie & Teresa Ehresman

3rd Place – Randi Polite – Teacher, Tricia Goodenough

(Select the Winners name to view their essay or select HERE to view all)

The day also included a reading of the Antonio Varacalli Day proclamation by Deputy Town Supervisor Kaitlyn Laskoski, a heroes blessing by Rev. J. Brad Benson of Trinity Episcopal Church and the ringing of the Bells of Bedford Falls.

The Mynderse Accademy Chorus will perform, and the ceremony will conclude with the releasing of flowers into the canal and a visit by Sprinkle Starship.

Thank you to our Wonderful Sponsors in 2022