Last week the Interlaken Village Board honored the work and life of Rod Serling.
Serling was the storyteller behind the iconic Twilight Zone series, which still gets play time on television sets in the U.S.
After spending summers at a cottage along Cayuga Lake in Interlaken, Serling was buried at the Lakeview Cemetery in 1975.
The recent event sponsored by the Village board celebrated the life and legacy of Serling and featured the voice of his daughter. Earlier in the year, a resolution was passed, and last week a proclamation was adopted.
Tony Del Plato, who serves as deputy mayor and water commissioner on the village board, described the day as “energizing and fulfilling.” More importantly, though, he said it was a testament to the legacy and energy that Serling’s life and work created.
“The support of the Serling family, the Village board and the nearly full auditorium of the South Seneca Elementary School on Saturday were testimony to the legacy and energy that Rod’s life,” Del Plato said after. “We have joined communities around the country in remembering his contributions to American culture and the continuing relevance of his work.”
For Interlaken the event means recognition in the cultural sense across the U.S.
“Our event puts Interlaken on the cultural map of America, joining many people around the country who continue to watch The Twilight Zone,” Del Plato said. “In conversations with his daughters, Anne and Jodi Serling, I got a glimpse of how much he loved and appreciated life in this small village in rural New York. His hometown, Binghamton, is a relatively large place compared to Interlaken. Then he hit the big time in American cultural life and lived in Los Angeles to work. But he returned to the Finger Lakes often.”
Del Plato said Serling’s affinity for the Finger Lakes is relatable in his own life, too. “Having lived in small towns and villages around Cayuga Lake for over 40 years, I can imagine how much he cherished the bucolic life of the region including the occasional horse & buggies trotting down Main Street of Interlaken,” he said. “He remained beloved and appreciated by many as testimony of those who attended the celebration who reminisced about his work and encounters with him.”
The Twilight Zone has been rebooted by Jordan Peele, and a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio will further put a stamp on the impact Serling had in the grand scheme of American Culture.
“Serling became a renowned writer and producer, but was still accessible to his neighbors and students. His playful spirit is one we can all appreciate,” Del Plato said. “He reminds me that there’s an inner child in all of us that wants to express itself, if we listen, regardless of our age.”
As for Interlaken’s role in maintaining Serling’s career, his family members say it was real. “The quality of his family life in Interlaken was exemplified in the joy and appreciation his daughters and friends expressed,” Del Plato said. “I think the pressures of writing for long hours, meeting deadlines and promoting his work were alleviated to some degree by living in Interlaken. He provided a safe and wholesome home life for his family. The final years of his life were in the area, including teaching at Ithaca College.”
Overall, it is a testament to the community’s strengths. Slower pace, cleaner air, and affordable housing—as Del Plato, and other board members in Interlaken, look out their doors to see more young people making Interlaken home.