CELORON, N.Y. (AP) — A new statue of Lucille Ball was unveiled in the late actress’ hometown on Saturday to replace one that was so hated it was dubbed “Scary Lucy.”
Hundreds of fans chanting “Lucy! Lucy!” gathered in Lucille Ball Memorial Park in the western New York village of Celoron to watch as the tarp was removed from the statue made by sculptor Carolyn Palmer.
An unflattering version by another artist was banished after detractors started a Facebook campaign named, “We Love Lucy! Get Rid of this Statue.”
The earlier statue’s creator, Dave Poulin, has said that he received death threats over the likeness. He apologized, calling his sculpture “unsettling,” but his offer to redo it for free was declined.
“Well, it’s been quite a ride,” Celeroon Mayor Schrecengost said as he kicked off the unveiling ceremony. “A little over a year ago, we got beat up pretty good.”
Schrecengost said that after the controversy over the earlier statue the town was “bombarded with all kinds of artists that would like to redo the statue.” He said Palmer was “the best sculptor we could have ended up with.”
Palmer thanked the “salt-of-the-earth” people of Celeron.
The crowd applauded as Palmer and Schrecengost unveiled the bronze statue, which shows Ball in a polka-dot dress.
Schrecengost said “Scary Lucy” remains an attraction and will be given another spot in the park.
The new statue was unveiled on what would have been Ball’s 95th birthday. The beloved star’s birthday is celebrated every year with the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival in nearby Jamestown.
This year’s festival started Friday. Headliners include comics Trevor Noah, Lewis Black and Brian Regan.