November 06, 2006

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Billboards

Travelers in Ohio and Pennsylvania can now see billboards inviting them to visit Lucille Ball’s hometown, Jamestown, New York!

A generous grant from the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, combined with 2005 Chautauqua County Occupancy Tax funds, a donation from Marriott International (in appreciation for Lucie Arnaz’s performance last January for the Eden Roc Resort and Spa’s 50th anniversary gala in Miami Beach), and a grant from Lake Shore Savings Bank, has made these billboards possible.

Travelers heading east on I-90 near the SR 528 intersection in Madison, Ohio, can see a winking “Lucy” against a bright blue background, encouraging them to visit the museums and shops in her hometown. A second billboard is rotating in Erie, Pennsylvania locations, initially on I-79 near the airport exit and now at the busy intersection of West 12th and Liberty Streets.

“It’s long been a dream of ours to be able to put up billboards to welcome more of the world to our Lucy-Desi attractions in Lucille Ball’s hometown,” said Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center executive director Ric Wyman. “With the opening a year ago of the Desilu Playhouse added to the original Lucy-Desi Museum, we now have the capacity to accommodate many more visitors.” Named for the studio where “I Love Lucy” was filmed, the Desilu Playhouse features exact replicas of the most famous sets in television history, a “Vitameatavegamin” opportunity, vintage memorabilia from the series, and more. It opened in August of 2005.

Wyman noted, “We are especially grateful to the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation for stepping up with the initial funding to make these billboards a reality. The Community Foundation has been a strong partner with the Lucy-Desi Center since the Center’s incorporation nearly five years ago. The Foundation provided support for the three downtown Lucy-Desi murals, the creation of the video enjoyed by festival and motor coach visitors who take Lucytown Tours, and the acquisition of the historic cello that played a key role in the creation of ‘I Love Lucy’.”

This past summer Jamestown’s Advertising Advantage notified the Lucy-Desi Center that an anonymous donor was making possible another billboard, a new revolving style that Advertising Advantage was launching in Erie.

“It is our hope that these new billboards will inform many more potential visitors of the opportunities that Jamestown offers,” Wyman concluded.

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