Here are some more fun photos from my Jamestown, New York trip to the Lucy Comedy Fest!
Recognize these from I Love Lucy.
I’ve been an ‘I Love Lucy’ fan for as long as I could remember. As a kid, I wanted to stomp grapes and wrap chocolate. I would hold bottles of cough syrup and pretend to do a Vitameatavegamin commercial (the drunk version). I also wish I had a dollar for everytime I said “Lucy, you got some ‘splainin’ to do’ or ‘Luuuccccy I’m home.’ No, I didn’t know anyone by the name of Lucy. I just made sure to say these famous phrases whenever it fit. I know every word of every episode of I Love Lucy. I only disliked a few episodes (the visit to Scotland is one of them). I wanted to meet Lucille Ball. I wanted to ‘be’ Lucille Ball. She was my idol and I admired all the work she did to pave the way for other female comedians, writers, producers, etc., after her. I read whatever I could on her and saw her on whatever show she was on.
Years ago, when I went to Atlantic City, New Jersey there was an ‘I Love Lucy’ exhibit with memorabilia from the show, including clothes, awards and props. I remember turning a corner at the exhibit and seeing a re-creation of both the Manhattan apartment and the California hotel room. My eyes welled up and I couldn’t control the tears that flowed. I felt that I stepped back in history and right through my television set. It was THAT good. I felt like I was in the Desilu Studios watching a taping of ‘I Love Lucy.’
When I found out that Lucille Ball was born in Jamestown, New York (only a five-hour drive away from my own home), I added a trip to this small town to my must-see list. I wanted to see where my idol was born and raised. Then, I found out about the Lucy Comedy Fest, an annual event in Jamestown where there are comedy shows, grape stomping (yes!), candy wrapping (yes! yes!), tributes to Lucy and tours of “Desilu Studios” which is more of the re-creations and memorabilia.
For several years I tried to get to this Comedy Fest, but the stars didn’t align until this past August when I finally went with my honey (who isn’t an ‘I Love Lucy’ or Lucille Ball superfan per se, but had a great time nonetheless).
I went to a panel where Peter Farrelly (There’s Something About Mary (1998), Me, Myself & Irene (2000) and Dumb & Dumber (1994)) told really funny stories about his career (Bobby was sick with the flu but was scheduled to appear) and then took a lucky winner for a ride in the Mutts Cuts van from the movie ‘Dumb & Dumber.’
I went to both the Babalu Cafe and the Havana Cuban Cafe & Pizzeria (where I had my first Cuban sandwich — YUM! — thanks Ruben!, who also happened to have the best flan around).
I finally lived out my dream of grape stomping and chocolate wrapping too! The volunteers dressed us up similar to what Lucy wore (even my honey let them wrap a ‘skirt’ and a bandanna on him) and we stepped into a basket filled with grapes. Stepping into the bucket felt cold and goopy and absolutely wonderful. I couldn’t wait to start. For two minutes, we stomped in circles and crushed the grapes. The lady next to me really got into it and threw the grapes at me, just like it happened to Lucy in the episode. Can I say ‘so much fun’ too many times?
The chocolate wrapping was a hoot. My honey and I did it together (I’m Lucy, he’s Ethel) and it was much more difficult than I thought it would be. Speed it up a little! they did! and before you know it there were chocolates flying everywhere and we just couldn’t keep up and we kept laughing. I resisted the urge to hide the ‘chocolates’ down my shirt and in my hat.
Recording a Vitameatavegamin commercial was awesome. I want to give props to the Museum because after I recorded my first (non-drunk) commercial, I accidentally deleted it and they let me in again to record it. Afterward, I had some regrets about not doing the drunk one, but hey at least I gave it a shot. Cut me some slack, I got stage fright with others watching me. LOL).
I’ve told so many people about this comedy fest that the attendance should go up next year. Hopefully I’ll come back and see it again. The professional comedians who were there this year included Brian Regan, Trevor Noah, and Lewis Black. There were Lucy & Ethel shows and tours of Jamestown.
We saw the homes where Lucille was born and raised and heard stories about the couple who bought her childhood home just to make sure that nobody remodeled it (they were outside waving to our tour bus). We went to the cemetery where Lucille is buried. I admit that I cried a little. I cried the day she died too.
We were there for her 105th birthday celebration (Lucille died in 1989) and saw the ‘ugly’ Lucille Ball statue. We also saw the unveiling of the beautiful new Lucille Ball statue and sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to her (again, got choked up). I paid homage to the woman who meant so much to me growing up — she made me laugh and thanks to her hard work inspired me to achieve whatever I wanted and not let being a woman stop me.
Jamestown will also become home to the National Comedy Center, which is currently being built. It is a 50 million project funded by public-private partnership and has been awarded more than $3.5 million from New York State, Empire State Development and I Love NY™. Many of the professional comedians who came to the Festival went on a private hard-hat tour of the future site.
“Comedy is one of the most overlooked of all the arts–it’s usually the dramatic stuff that gets all the attention & recognition,” said Peter Farrelly in a release. “So to have a place that will celebrate comedy and the comics of the past is a great thing.”
In case you were wondering, we stayed at the Red Roof Inn in Falconer, New York. A shout out to the manager there because we were accidentally double-billed for our entire stay (if you’re on a tight budget, things like that can hurt). She did everything she could to make sure it was fixed right away, so thanks! This was my first experience with a Red Roof Inn and it was very clean and comfortable. The staff was extremely pleasant as well.
If you’re interested in going to the Lucy Comedy Fest in 2017, go to the website and sign up for the newsletter so you know when they announce the dates. Book your hotel AS SOON AS the dates are announced, but be forewarned that the rates of some of the hotels will double. We got a decent rate and the Red Roof Inn was only about 10 minutes from town so it was very convenient. There was plenty of parking around for every event, so I recommend staying here if you’re going and, if you’re a Lucy fan, GO!
I’ll post more of the Lucy pictures, plus my foodie photos in another.
Are you a Lucy fan???! Tell me about it!
I love Disney — the movies, the cartoons, the parks, the…well, everything. So when I went to San Francisco, California I had to visit The Walt Disney Family Museum. I knew Walt Disney’s background and how he created his company, but I love looking at memorabilia, and seeing notes, sketches and contracts that were signed by the man himself.
Walt Disney received 22 Academy Awards from 59 nominations and won more individual Oscars than anyone else. He was presented with two Golden Globe Special Achievement Awards and one Emmy Award, among other honors. Check these photos out:
The one on the left — can you guess what it’s for? LOL It was specially made for the Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs movie. Look at the adorable little Oscars! Of course, the other Oscars that he received are on the right.
Here are some more photos:
I had the chance to see the Wish Upon A Star: The Art of Pinocchio, but they don’t allow you to take photos or videos. If you’re a Pinocchio fan, you won’t be disappointed. There are movie stills as well as notes and sketches and other memorabilia from the movie. It’s not even my favorite movie and I loved it. The exhibit is in another house out back behind the main center.
Here’s something cool to know: if you have a teen who loves animation, The Walt Disney Family Museum offers teen animation programs and a Teen Animation Festival International, afternoon workshops, summer camps, and volunteer opportunities (for local kids). What a place to learn, right?
One thing: Unless I missed it, there wasn’t much on Minnie Mouse. That made me sad.
Speaking of sad, here is one photo of an entire wall of drawings from when Walt died on December 15, 1966. If you read everything and learn about his life, you’ll definitely shed a few tears about his death.
Check out their website at http://waltdisney.org/ Admission ranges from $12 for ages 6-17, up to $20 to adults. There is a senior discount and kids under 5 are free. Depending on how much you actually read versus scan and walk through, this museum can take you a few hours to look at everything or an hour to take a fast peek. I absolutely loved it. Full disclosure: I received press passes to attend, but would’ve gladly paid the $20.
A record (what’s that? LOL) from Mary Poppins, one of my fave Disney movies ever. What’s your fave?
So on the way to Atlantic City, we stopped in Paterson, New Jersey and got another stamp for our Parks Passport book. All the way down — as I mentioned in my last post on Paterson, I kept thinking “Lou Costello was born in Paterson, New Jersey! I wonder if they’ll have anything in his honor?”
We stepped into the Parks office and right there was a map with “Lou Costello Memorial Park” on it. I became a ridiculously giddy little girl again. I’m a huge Abbott & Costello fan. I have a life-size cutout of the duo in my family room. I have an Abbott & Costello coffee mug and a “Who’s on First?” t-shirt. I also found out that there was a Lou Costello exhibit at the Paterson Museum (who knew there was a Paterson Museum? LOL) and I knew I had to see that too.
The waterfalls were cool, but as soon as we were done I bolted to find that park. It was a very short drive, but I have to admit, however, that it’s not in the best part of town and the park isn’t really maintained well. But there it was.
and I took a photo with Lou Costello’s statue!
Seriously if you don’t know who Lou Costello is right now, please go back and watch some of the old Abbott & Costello clips on You Tube. Like this one.
After the park, we went over to the exhibit. It was small, but you have to understand how much I love this guy. Seeing his photos and memorabilia from his personal collection is like baseball fans seeing Babe Ruth memorabilia.
Right in front of me at the exhibit was a 1940s script that belonged to Lou. A script!
So far in my travels this year, I have really tried hard to combine film and entertainment in my virgin traveler adventures. At Ellis Island, I found an exhibit about Bob Hope and now this one on Abbott & Costello. My tickets are also booked for the Lucy Comedy Fest in August in Jamestown, New York. Lucille Ball was my idol growing up. I can’t wait to see the exhibit and the town that she grew up in. It should be a blast!
Have you gone to a favorite celeb’s hometown and toured it? If so, who?
I was born and raised in New York (Yonkers, to be exact) and I worked in New York City for five years and I went to school for three years at the New York Institute of Technology in Manhattan. And in all that time, I’ve never been to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty (The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886. It was designated as a National Monument in 1924). I’ve seen the Statue from afar on an overnight cruise and I’ve seen it when I was on a bus with one of my children to a school trip to a nearby museum, but I’ve never gone to it.
It was my honey’s birthday and he’s always wanted to see both as had I, so I treated him to an overnight in the city. We headed to New York City via Metro North and then subway (my first ride in probably 25 years) to Battery Park where we embarked on a ride via Statue Cruises (there’s also a New Jersey entrance too).
Virgin Traveler Tip: Just like at the airport, your items will be searched at the entrance to the Statue Cruises and the Statue of Liberty! We went to Liberty Island first and if you don’t get chills or at least a sense of pride as you get closer to the Statue, I don’t know what to tell you. I got a little choked up thinking of living in the States and the freedoms I’ve had. We didn’t get to climb to the crown (and I mean a 167 or so stair climb) because the tickets sell out about three months in advance. However, we did go to the pedestal and look out at the gorgeous views of New York City.
The Statue also has a small museum where you can learn about its beginnings, but honestly I just loved staring at it.
We got back on the boat and headed over to Ellis Island. Here, again, you have to have a sense of wonder and a sense of imagination.
You’ll stand in a large room called the Registry Room where you can imagine 5,000 immigrants filling that room waiting to be allowed into the States. Each one of them with such unique, interesting and sometimes heartbreaking stories. Then there were separate rooms where the immigrants were taken and had their mental and physical abilities checked. Being born in this country, I can’t imagine what they all went through.
I’m currently working on a book about a man (it’s his memoir) who came from India to the United States back in 1961. He had just about $100 in his pocket when he landed on this soil. Again, I can’t imagine.
Virgin Traveler Tip: Of course, we got our National Parks Passport stamped! On this trip, we actually had FOUR stamps! One for Ellis Island, one for the Statue of Liberty, one for the centennial and one for Castle Clinton, which — like many before us — we passed through on our way back from Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.
One special note: Do you remember this scene from Hitch with Will Smith?
I expected that there would be a place where I just see my own heritage, but alas, you have to pay for a search.
Virgin Traveler Tip: Also, it’s a lot of walking around, so if you have any issues, make sure to wear comfortable shoes, take breaks and sit down. We pushed ourselves a bit much that day and were very sore, but it was worth it.
DID YOU KNOW? There is a very small exhibit about Bob Hope on one of the floors of Ellis Island? I’m a movie geek and took time to visit. Not sure if it’s a permanent exhibit, but if you were a fan of his, or movies in general, check it out. He has an interesting back story about coming to this country.
After Ellis Island, we got back on the boat and went back to Battery Park.
Loved this day trip there and it took us about 4 hours to see everything, but depending on if you see the movie and do your own search, it might take more.
Virgin Traveler Tip: If you want to expand your trip, there is the National Museum of the American Indian, a FREE museum about Indian history, right across the street from the entrance to the boat.
For more information, check out the websites of the individual sites and make sure to plan accordingly before you travel. Virgin Traveler Tip: Reminder that Crown tickets sell out early and you need to reserve ample time for your visit. We met two girls who wanted to get on the boat one hour before the islands closed. Unfortunately the ticket offices had already closed.
Happy Birthday Honey!