Jamestown, NY Honors the Legacy of Laughter and Lucille Ball with a Hometown Birthday Party and Festival of Comedy

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The world will celebrate the centennial birthday of its most beloved comedienne, Lucille Ball, once in this lifetime. This summer, her hometown of Jamestown, New York and the Lucille Ball – Desi Arnaz Center will throw a five-day, city-wide birthday party in honor of Lucy’s 100th Birthday with a Festival of Comedy featuring Paula Poundstone, Joan Rivers, and a Rooftop Comedy Showcase, August 3-7, 2011.

Practicing Classic Routines during Comedy College

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

Lucille Ball’s hometown of Jamestown, New York is preparing for a once-in-a-lifetime celebration this summer, the 100th anniversary of Lucy’s birth on August 6, 1911. A century ago, the baby girl who would grow up to become the world’s most beloved comedienne, was born in a little house on an unassuming street in this small industrial city in Chautauqua County and southwestern New York. 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 begin July 30th when, in collaboration with the Lucille Ball – Desi Arnaz Center, the local radio station, Media One Radio Group, will throw a Hometown Wedding. Fifty invited guests will attend 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 takes the stage at the Reg Lenna Civic Center, the beautifully restored vaudeville Palace Theater where young Lucy first performed. Rivers co-starred with Lucille Ball in an episode of Here's Lucy in which the two comedic actresses' characters had jury duty together. The two reportedly had great respect and affinity for one another, and Rivers did the last talk show interview ever done with Ball.

Performing on Lucille Ball’s 100th birthday, August 6, 2011, will be well-known comedienne and 1995 Lucy Fest headliner Paula Poundstone. Joining Poundstone and Rivers is a line-up that includes the critically-acclaimed kids’ comedy show Story Pirates on Saturday morning, and Rooftop Comedy’s showcase of rising comics Nate Bargatze, Christina Paszitsky and Costaki Economopoulos on Friday evening. Bargatze is the winner of the New York Comedy Festival and the Boston Comedy Festival in 2010, and Pazsitzky is a regular guest and writer of E!’s "Chelsea Lately", as well as a finalist on NBC’s Last Comic Standing. Economopoulos is well known for his segment on the syndicated Bob & Tom Radio Show, “The Economonologue”. Kids’ comedy troop Story Pirates have been mentioned on CNN’s "Larry King" for their unique shows based on stories written by children.

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 village on Chautauqua Lake near 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, a 501c3 non-profit, 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, August 3-7, 2011 in Jamestown, New York 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 LucyComedyFest.com. For information on planning a trip to Jamestown and Chautauqua County in southwestern New York, visit the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau website at tourchautauqua.com or call 1-866-908-4569.

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