Relive Buffalo’s Insanely Cool History at ‘It WAS a Wonderful Life’

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Forest Lawn Cemetary
Photo x Forest Lawn Cemetery

Over summer you may have seen our Snapchats and pics on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram when we went on a tour of Forest Lawn Cemetery to learn about Buffalo’s past while walking around the absolutely gorgeous area that is Forest Lawn. Like the fact that there are tons of prominent Americans buried there, there’s a giant unmarked mausoleum that belongs to a well-known Western New York family (who visits the grave site once a year), and oh yeah there’s a Russian *prince* among Forest Lawn’s residents. #casual.

In fact there are so many permanent residents in Forest Lawn, over 162,000 to be exact, that you can explore Forest Lawn’s 269-acres time and time again and still not see all there is too see. We’re not sure if the number of residents also includes the ducks and geese who reside at Forest Lawn. TBD. All of this illustrious history is why our very own beautiful/humongous cemetery was placed on the list of National Register of Historic Places to recognize its noteworthiness as one of America’s most historic locations. Two for you, Buffalo-coco. You go, Buffalo-coco!

Forest Lawn Cemetery
Photo x Forest Lawn Cemetery

With so many great stories to tell, Forest Lawn began ‘It WAS a Wonderful Life’ as a fun way to illustrate the lives of those buried there who have shaped Western New York/America/the world’s history. Since its inception, this original theatrical production has received critical acclaim and become a Western New York holiday tradition, which makes it a GREAT idea for holiday gifts for friends/family/significant others/parents/grandparents/selves hint hint.

The show takes place in the historic and festively decorated Forest Lawn chapel which, just for this event, is transformed into a live theater. Your narrator during the show is John Lay, aka the first person to take up permanent residence in Forest Lawn in 1850, who introduces several of the new friends he’s made over the last 165 years at Forest Lawn. Then some of Western New York’s most accomplished musical theater performers create “musical, comical, and poignant glimpses of Christmases past when they enjoyed life on this side of the lawn”. It’s Buffalo history as told by a combination of ‘A Christmas Carol’ and ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ in musical form and we are here. for. it.

Forest Lawn Cemetery
Photo x Forest Lawn Cemetery
Forest Lawn Cemetery
Photo x Forest Lawn Cemetery

Some of the featured stories you’ll hear in ‘It WAS a Wonderful Life’ include Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives (where she served from 1969 to 1982) and the first woman from a major party to run for President of the United States; Dr. Frederick Cook, polar explorer who laid claim to the discovery of the North Pole in 1908; and John Dover, a private who served in the Union Army during the Civil War as a member of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, the first exclusively African American unit to fight in the war. You may remember the unit’s story as told by the Academy Award winning film, ‘Glory’. So like, also v casual.

Basically if you like Buffalo and you like history and you like the holidays and you like musicals, Forest Lawn’s ‘It WAS a Wonderful Life’ is for you. The show only comes around once a year (see below for dates and times), so make sure you don’t miss it!

Seating is limited. Tickets required. Ticket price is $25 per person and can be purchased in advance online at the Forest Lawn website (link) or via phone at (716) 885-1600. All attendees are invited to join Forest Lawn staff for hot cider prior to each performance.


It WAS a Wonderful Life


Performance Dates:

  • Saturday, November 26 – 2:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, November 27 – 2:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 3 – 11:00 a.m.
  • Saturday, December 3 – 2:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 4 – 2:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 10 – 11:00 a.m.
  • Saturday, December 10 – 2:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 11 – 2:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 17 – 11:00 a.m.
  • Saturday, December 17 – 2:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 18 – 2:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 31 – 2:00 p.m. (Note: This performance will conclude with the cast doing a special celebratory toast with the audience to ring in the New Year)


Forest Lawn Chapel

1411 Delaware Ave, Buffalo, NY / Forest Lawn on Facebook

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SOB Creative
Author: SOB Creative

SOB Creative is the team behind Step Out Buffalo's sponsored content. Posts by SOB Creative are paid advertisements from our Partners. With these occasional dedicated articles, our goal is to share valuable information with our readers that we think you’ll find useful and interesting. You’ll know when content is sponsored because it will be labeled at the top and bottom of the post with this message - "This article is a paid promotion by one of our advertisers. With these paid articles our goal is to share valuable information with our readers that we think you’ll find useful and interesting." Thanks for supporting Step Out Buffalo by reading our sponsored content!

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