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Plans unveiled for Lucy's 100th birthday

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By Joyce Kryszak

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-961258.mp3

Jamestown, NY – The Lucy Desi Center in Jamestown is celebrating Lucille Ball's 100th birthday in August with a new tradition. The Center announced its plans for the first annual Festival of Comedy.

There will still be a grape stomping contest. And a Lucy look-alike contest. In fact, the Guinness Book of World Records will be on hand to count how many Lucy's show up trying to win the prize.

But this year, the Center is taking the celebration and the entire organization into a new direction. Journey Gunderson is executive director. She said from now on the center's focus will be on on Lucy's true legacy of laughter.

"Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, their true intentions and hopes for their legacy is that it would breathe on in living, breathing comedy - comedy that would be progressive and contemporary, as they were in their time," said Gunderson. "So, we have really adopted a new vision and a revised identity under which to do business."

The Lucy Desi Playhouse and the museum will remain in operation. But Gunderson said it will now be under the new banner of the Lucy Desi Center for Comedy.

To emphasize the new mission, the Center is bringing in comedy legend Joan Rivers to headline the festival. Joining her will be rising comedienne, Whitney Cummings. Gunderson said Lucy would approve.

"Her vision for her legacy was to help people into comedy and to help them on the way up," said Gunderson.

In the future, the Center will be showcasing new talent throughout the year. They also plan to partner with colleges to host comedy seminars and workshops to train future comedy stars. And she said Jamestown will one day be home to the first true Comedy Hall of Fame.

"The bricks and mortar plans are definitely underway. We've actually gotten some architectural mark-ups of what is could look like here in Jamestown," said Gunderson. Gunderson said, stay tuned. They might be making a big announcement about that at the August Festival.