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One year later, the "new and improved" Lucy statue still much appreciated

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

It's been one year since a newer Lucille Ball bronze statue was unveiled in the community where she grew up. People still come to the village of Celoron, located just outside of Jamestown, to see the image of the late comedy legend. And whether it's tourists or longtime residents, the consensus is that the newer Lucy is a vast improvement.

The original Lucy statue to be erected in Lucille Ball Memorial Park was created in 2009. It portrays Ball during an episode of her I Love Lucy television series, during which she is pitching a tonic known as Vitameatavegamin which, upon tasting it, she discovers to be quite awful.

Upon its introduction to the public, people dismissed it as "Scary Lucy." Even many years later, as people were visiting the lakeside park, opinions were loud and clear about that sculpture.

"It didn't respect her enough because it didn't look like her," said Brooke Wagatha, a Randolph resident who was in Lucille Ball Memorial Park watching her children play as WBFO paid a visit. 

The original statue was created by artist Dave Poulin, who explainedin a 2015 letter to the Hollywood Reporter that it was originally built as a private project but the couple for whom it was made later donated it to the town. Even he admitted it was not of satisfactory quality but said in the letter he was unable to do anything to improve it before the statue went public.

Last year, a statue designed by artist Carolyn Palmer was introduced and immediately embraced by the public. This version portrays Ball in a flowing polka dot dress, striking a glamorous pose. 

"That's more a likeness of Lucille Ball," said Jamestown resident Catherine. "She truly was a beautiful woman and that is a very nice statue."

Those who spoke to WBFO said Ball, who died in 1989, remains a much-beloved personality in Celoron and the surrounding communities. Laurie Wagatha, Brooke's mothers, said her classic shows are, in an age when violence and vulgarity are increasing in entertainment, a family-friendly option.

Credit Michael Mroziak, WBFO
The statue many dismiss as "Scary Lucy" currently stands in a remote corner of the Lucille Ball Memorial Park in the Town of Celoron.

"They're funny. They have meaning, lessons to be learned," she said. "There's not foul language or any of that. You don't need that to be entertaining."

Of course, those who may wish to see "Scary Lucy" may still do so. She's still in the park, though tucked away in a corner. And reportedly, she may find a new home. The New York Times reported in 2015 that the National Comedy Center reached an agreement with the village of Celoron to provide the original statue a new home upon its opening. 

That is now scheduled for 2018.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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