Hundreds of local and well-traveled Lucy fans gathered in Tracy Plaza to kick off the weekend's ceremonies.
Some fans gathered in the plaza to listen to musical guests Party of Nine, while others came to hear to Tammy Pescatelli deliver her humor and quick-wit, while plenty more showed up to watch the beginning of the Lucy World Games. Regardless of what they were specifically there for, they were there en masse, which is important to Tom Benson, president of the board of the Lucy-Desi Center for Comedy.
"The turnout was absolutely great," said Benson. The weather is fantastic, and everything is going perfectly. (Thursday night's) show with Paula Poundstone was remarkable and (Friday was) another really big show with three new comedians and Lucy Arnaz as the host. (Today) the party in the plaza goes all day and (tonight) Billy Gardell will perform. You can't ask for much more than that."
Lucy World Games
Benson, who was busy running the candy conveyor belt as part of the Lucy World Games, was admittedly very impressed by not only the turnout by the fans, but also their enthusiasm for Lucy's legacy.
"It's absolutely fantastic," said Benson. "There are people here from all over the world and it is very humbling. Last year was Lucy's 100th birthday, so it was a very big turnout. We were worried that support this year wouldn't be to the level it was last year, but we were wrong. The support has been unbelievable. Everyone is having a great time and it goes to show that if you put together a good program and promote the heck out if it, people are going to come."
Benson explained that sometime in the not-so-distant future, it would be wonderful to see something along the lines of a comedy hall-of-fame established in Jamestown, and year-in and year-out success during Lucy Fest helps to bring that goal along.
Linda Silver of Kingston, Ontario helps Tammy Pescatelli sing the theme to “I Love Lucy” in Tracy Plaza on Friday.
P-J photos by Remington Whitcomb
"We need this community's support," said Benson. "We're getting very close to making the hall-of-fame happen, but that can't happen without all the support we're getting here today and all the support we've received in the past. Once again, it's all very humbling."
Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, who stopped down to Tracy Plaza to enjoy the festivities, talked for a moment about a creative way he and Sen. Cathy Young have tried to help out Jamestown and Lucy Fest.
"Sen. Young and I cosponsored legislation to name a bridge over the expressway after Lucy and Dezi and we did that so everyone who drove down the highway would see Lucy and Desi's name and would be reminded about the museum and the comedy festival we hold every year. This is a way to get the state to put up an advertising sign on the expressway with no expense locally where you can't otherwise have any advertising. (As a joke) when it came to vote on the floor of the assembly and I stood to speak, a colleague of mine had the theme song to "I Love Lucy" queued. It was a funny joke, and the legislation passed unanimously."
With regards to how he was enjoying the festival so far, his words echoed many of the same sentiments that Benson's did.
"It's really fun to see Tracy Plaza filled with people," said Goodell. "Locals and out-of-state folks alike have come together to make this a great time. It's everything (one) could have hoped for."