Reported fm democrat and chroniclee by Meaghan M. McDermott, Staff writer:
As a young girl, Jessica Battaglia relished snuggling in front of the television, watching episodes of I Love Lucy with her mom.
As she grew older, I Love Lucy became a bigger part of the Battaglia family's traditions, when they'd gather together to watch reruns of the long-running CBS series or wholesome comedies starring husband-and-wife team Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.
Now, Battaglia, 27, hopes I Love Lucy can become an even larger part of her life: she and fiancé Benjamin Bianchi are in the running to win the Lucille Ball Hometown Wedding Giveaway. They are competing in the online contest against four other contestant couples from across the country.
Grand-prize winners in the mediaonebridal.com contest will receive a 1950s-inspired wedding and cocktail reception at the Tropicana Room in Jamestown, Chautauqua County, and a free honeymoon.
Battaglia, a 2001 graduate of Greece Arcadia High School and 2005 St. John Fisher College graduate, said she loves Lucy because the comedy is timeless, Ball's skills with physical comedy are unmatched and the humor is family-friendly.
"It would be a dream come true to win this wedding," said Battaglia. The wedding would be a perfect complement to the extensive collection of I Love Lucy and Lucille Ball memorabilia that fills parts of her Penfield home, and to her tradition of visiting Jamestown for annual Lucy-Desi Festival events. Jamestown is Lucille Ball's hometown, and home to the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center.
Battaglia wouldn't have had even a shot at the dream wedding if not for her fiancé. Although the couple learned of the contest early, they'd let the days slip away from them and it wasn't until late in the morning of the contest deadline that Bianchi remembered they hadn't finished their entry.
"I ran home on lunch and put (the video) together, just on a whim," he said. "I knew she really wanted to win."
He told her on Dec. 15 that he'd submitted the entry and on Dec. 16, they learned their entry was picked for the finals.
"Winning this would really be a memorable experience," said Bianchi, 32.
"It would be something we'll always be able to tell our grandkids. There's nobody else going to have a wedding like that."
The contest winners will be announced around Valentine's Day. The wedding will take place July 30, in honor of what would have been Lucille Ball's 100th birthday.
How to vote
To cast an online vote for Penfield couple Jessica Battaglia and Benjamin Bianchi in the mediaonebridal.com Lucille Ball Hometown Wedding Giveaway, go to www.lucilleballhometownwedding.com. Voting closes Feb. 11.