Jamestown Celebrates Lucy's 100th Birthday

August 7, 2011 Updated Aug 7, 2011 at 5:43 PM EDT

By WKBW News


Jamestown Celebrates Lucy's 100th Birthday

August 7, 2011 Updated Aug 7, 2011 at 5:43 PM EDT

Jamestown, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- Lucille Ball’s hometown of Jamestown celebrated a once-in-a-lifetime celebration this summer, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the comedienne's birth on August 6, 1911.

Jamestown, New York’s Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Center for Comedy has recorded 915 Lucys in the attempt to set a Guinness World Record for Most People Dressed as Lucy Ricardo in One Place at One Time. This was an overwhelming turnout that shattered the minimum requirement of 250 participants.

The celebration on Saturday was captured in pictures by Journey Gunderson of the Lucy-Desi Museum.

For months, street signs and banners throughout downtown have been announcing the coming party, Lucille Ball’s 100th Birthday Celebration and Festival of Comedy, or simply Lucy Fest.

Preliminary festivities began July 30th when, in collaboration with the Lucille Ball – Desi Arnaz Center, Media One Radio Group threw a Hometown Wedding. Fifty invited guests attended the wedding and reception in the Desilu Playhouse and Lucy-Desi Museum, surrounded by the lifetime works and memorabilia of the first couple of comedy.

Out of hundreds of entries, the winning couple, Tricia Dren and Troy Litwiler from Poland, Ohio were selected on February 14, 2011 by listeners and fans who have since voted on every detail of the wedding from the bride’s dress and veil to flowers and rings.

On Thursday, August 4th, Joan Rivers took the stage at the Reg Lenna Civic Center, the beautifully restored vaudeville Palace Theater where a young Lucy first performed. And performing August 6, is well-known comedienne and 1995 Lucy Fest headliner Paula Poundstone.

Visitors will also see a film tribute to past festivals at the Robert H. Jackson Center, and a parade and historical re-enactment of Lucy and Desi’s visit to Jamestown for the World Premiere of Forever, Darling. Late night comedy choices include Jamestown’s own improvisational comedy troupe, the Unexpected Guests, and up-and-coming stand-up Rooftop comedians.

Festival participants will have the opportunity to be part of the Guinness World Record for the most people dressed as Lucy, as well as attend the Live Radio Show performance: My Favorite Husband, and I Love Lucy: The Untold Story, written and directed by Gregg Oppenheimer, son of I Love Lucy creator Jess Oppenheimer.

For vaudeville hopefuls, the chance to recreate and perform scenes from classic “I Love Lucy” episodes begins with Comedy College. A laugh-out-loud learning part of Lucy festivals for several years, Comedy College will soon be expanded as part of the nurturing comedic arts mission and outreach of the Lucy-Desi Center and in conjunction with Jamestown Community College, Jamestown’s Infinity Performing and Visual Arts, and Bob Thompson, founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University and professor at the Newhouse School of Communications. Details and a schedule of future classes for youth and adults will be announced during the festival.

Lucy Town Bus Tours and a silent auction of the Ball-Arnaz family memorabilia will run Wednesday through Saturday. A picnic in the Lucille Ball Memorial Park in Celoron, a small lakeside community adjacent to Jamestown, closes the five-day event on Sunday. Celoron Mayor John Keeney will present A Remembrance of Celoron Amusement Park through Lucille Ball’s Eyes, from 1911-1933. Celoron was once noted for the huge park with giant toboggan slides, skating rink and large auditorium which attracted top musical and vaudeville performers from across the country.

The Fenton History Center presents Lucille Ball: Not the Girl Next Door, a permanent exhibit focusing on Lucy’s early years in Jamestown and Celoron and her return trips to the area throughout her career. Included are restricted photographs taken by her friend Marion Strong VanVlack, showing a touching, and human aspect of this internationally loved comedienne. In cooperation with the Lucy-Desi Center and historic Lakeview Cemetery, the Fenton History Center will also present cemetery tours by carriage during Lucy Fest, with stories from costumed actors about people in Lucy’s life and a visit to the Ball family plot where she is buried.

The mission of the Lucille Ball – Desi Arnaz Center for Comedy is to preserve the legacy of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz and enrich the world through the healing powers of love and laughter through its commitment to the development of the comedic arts. Lucy Fest is presented by the Lucy-Desi Center for Comedy and is co-produced by Rooftop Comedy and Rooftop Media, the leading and world’s largest producer of interactive comedy programming.

For festival tickets and details on more than 30 events and activities, visit www.LucyComedyFest.com.