The Post Journal, Jamestown, NY: CELORON - It was with wild applause and cheering that Lucille Ball's birthday celebration kicked off Friday morning with the unveiling of a life-sized bronze statue of the First Lady of Comedy.
The opening ceremonies were, for the first time ever, held at Lucille Ball Memorial Park in Celoron, where Lucille Ball spent her childhood.
The statue is close to a paved walking path and faces the parking lot.
Donated by Celoron residents Mark and Jetta Wilson, the statue was crafted by artist Dave Poulin, who has created more than 100 life-sized bronze figures throughout Jamestown, the United States and the world.
''About 10 years ago, I had a building for sale in downtown Jamestown,'' Wilson said. ''Dave purchased the building and we did some creative financing. He made a statue of Lucille Ball for us as part of his payment and we gratefully accepted. We decided to donate it to the village of Celoron. This has honestly been an ongoing project for years, and we're extremely happy with the end result.''
Mrs. Wilson said she was ''extremely pleased'' with the statue.
''It's just perfect to have a statue of Lucy here in her hometown,'' Mrs. Wilson said. ''We wanted her in the pose from Vitametavegamin - everyone has a picture of that in their minds - and it's just perfect.''
The Wilsons said they were both intrigued and impressed by Poulin.
''Right from the beginning, we were intrigued by his vision, his creativity, his talent and his work ethic,'' Mrs. Wilson said of him. ''He is passionate, strives for excellence and has excellent attention to detail. Those qualities in Dave remind us of Lucy and we hope this statue reminds the world of her and makes this a better place for laughter and love.''
Poulin said he was ''thrilled and humbled'' to be part of bringing Lucille Ball back to her hometown.
''There's always a special feeling I have when, as an artist, I get a chance to make art that connects and resonates with people,'' he said. ''Some projects are just meant to be. I feel blessed to be part of this. To see this come to fruition and actually have a bronze of Lucy in the area is just a thrill.''
The statue was brought to the park on Thursday and installed. A life-sized bronze statue, it weighs 400 pounds and was created in Poulin's studio on East 1st Street.
Poulin said the process begins with a clay model that is turned to bronze through a process called the lost wax process. Through the process, the clay model is dismantled and divided into small sections which are painted with silicone rubber and filled with molten wax. Each wax section is coated with several layers of ceramic and placed in an oven that is pre-heated to 1,800 degrees. That eliminates the wax and leaves the ceramic shell, which is then filled with molten bronze that is as hot as 2,100 degrees.
''Everything for the statue was done locally and she's here in a local park,'' Poulin said. ''To me, that's especially fitting.''
The birthday celebration will be ongoing this weekend with a number of events including a Karaoke Costume Cabaret on Saturday night and special events with Lucy and Ricky Ricardo impersonators. For a full schedule of events, visit www.lucydesi.com.