Regardless of where or in what era you grew up, the mention of “I Love Lucy” or Lucille Ball’s name likely conjures some very distinct images: Ms. Ball as Lucy Ricardo stuffing chocolate into her mouth beside on-screen sidekick Ethel Mertz, and also a vision of her stomping grapes in a large vat with a disgruntled Italian woman. Holding nothing back on camera, Ms. Ball had a knack for making people laugh, and continues to do so even today. Since “I Love Lucy” debuted in 1951, it has never been off air (in fact, the show revolutionized television not only by introducing TV’s first mixed-race couple, but also by creating and enacting the concept of re-runs and syndication).
This Jamestown-born comedienne left a lasting impression on her hometown (and beyond) so it’s no surprise that locals devote an entire weekend each August to celebrating her legacy as a lover of laughter and a pioneer of modern television. This year’s Lucille Ball Comedy Festival kicks off today, just five days before what would be Ms. Ball’s 102nd birthday. And the bash they have planned is like no other. Now through Sunday, August 4, Jamestown residents and the thousands of visitors the Festival draws can spend a day in the life of Lucille Ball, including dressing up as her doppelganger! Or:
- Going on a tour of her birthplace, home and favorite hangouts ($20)
- Stomping grapes ($15) or wrapping chocolates ($5) like Ms. Ball did as Lucy Ricardo
- Attending improv classes ($25) or watching stand-up comedians in action ($15.50 – $55.50)
And that’s only the beginning. However you end up celebrating Lucy, don’t be surprised if you end up mingling with some Lucille Ball look-alikes.
Last year, 13,000 Lucille fans attended the Lucy Comedy Fest and a similar turnout is expected this year. Though the festival ends on Sunday, it is really just the beginning of the “best of Lucy” celebration. Join us in wishing her a happy birthday on August 6, and mark your calendars (and dig out those running shoes) for the first Lucy Town Half Marathon and 5K on October 12 and 13 in Jamestown.
[Photos courtesy of Wikipedia.com]