For the final dance of the fall semester, members of the California Senior Class conducted their fellow students — as well as several tutors and their families — on a visit to Bedford Falls (once known as St. Joseph Commons), modeling their dance around the Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life. Intricate murals depicted cherished moments from the movie beneath a magical canopy of string lights and paper snowflakes.

For the dance’s entertainment, musicians of the Class of 2023 performed a medley of favorite Christmas carols and seasonal songs, concluding with a reenactment of the final scene of the film — featuring tutor Sean Collins (’79) as an angel! The entire audience joined voices with the performers for a chorus of “Auld Lang Syne,” after which caroling continued around the piano.

And of course, Santa Claus — or someone who looked a lot like him — paid a visit, too! The tutors’ children (not to mention some excited students) crowded around while Jolly Old St. Nick read The Night Before Christmas. When he had bid them all a hearty farewell, tossing fistfuls of candy into the crowd before disappearing into the night, it was time to dance!

In the spirit of the film, the evening featured a dance contest — though in this case, it was waltzing, not the Charleston. Earlier in the day, alumnus Dan Selmeczy (’08) and his wife had given a dance lesson in St. Cecilia’s hall, so the students were well prepared!

Much more than fundamentals, however, were on display in the competition. Some couples glided across the floor with grace while others undertook complex aerial moves. After several rounds, the winners were announced: In third place were siblings Susana (’24) and Joseph Sedler (’23), while second went to Brigit McNeil (’23) and Jacob Temple (’24). Winning it all were Bella Sanchez (’23) and JohnPaul Beckman (’23).

At 10:30, a student jazz band took to the stage, sending reinvigorated thrills throughout the Commons. Their lively renditions of Christmas classics packed the dance floor late into the night.

Like George Bailey’s life, they really had a wonderful dance. “It’s like the beginning of a goodbye,” one senior commented. And a what a joyful — if bittersweet — goodbye it turned out to be.