That’s a wrap, Scranton

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First Posted: 5/6/2013

“Ain’t no party like a Scranton party, ’cause a Scranton party don’t stop!” The phrase, originally coined by Steve Carell’s character Michael Scott on NBC’s Emmy-winning sitcom “The Office,” became the anthem of thousands of fans that made their pilgrimage to Scranton for “The Office Wrap Party” on Saturday, May 4. For the past nine years, viewers have followed the characters, mockumentary-style, through their daily antics and experiences in their fictional office of Dunder Mifflin in Scranton.

The event, which drew fans worldwide to downtown Scranton, began with the Blogger’s Breakfast, featuring co-host and celebrity blogger Jennie “Tanster” Tan of fan website Office Tally. Thousands of fans filtered onto the University of Scranton’s campus before the mid-morning panel with the show’s creative team. The panel featured a Q&A with producer Steve Burgess, director of photography Matt Sohn, co-executive producer Allison Silverman, property master Philip D. Shea, editor/director Claire Scanlon, executive producer and actor Paul Lieberstein, and executive producer and show creator Greg Daniels.

Shea was responsible for the thorough integration of authentic Scrantonian artifacts into the set dressing and props warehouse. Shea was stunned by the positive response by natives to donate their personal belongings to the props department. Some props are obvious – Clark’s mug from Northern Light Espresso Bar and Dwight’s Froggy 101 sticker – while others are more discrete, like the tiny mint shaker on Kevin’s desk from Old Forge Bank. Rainn Wilson, who plays Dwight, immediately recognized The Weekender by name: “We have those on set. We read them when we’re bored.”

Shea, who established a prop drop box at the Scranton Chamber of Commerce, was meticulous about bringing a Scrantonian authenticity to the L.A. soundstage: “I brought the writers down to the warehouse, and when they saw it, they were all like, ‘This is such great stuff!’ So we layered it and layered it in the sets, and that’s what you see on the show: the set dressing and, also, its props.”

The writers were hungry for interesting props and often used them to generate material, including playing cards with local monuments printed on the back. “I remember all the Herr’s, the Wegmans, the Utz, the Gerrity’s, the Sheetz, the Paper Magic,” mused Shea. “It was anything to represent Scranton and make the show more authentic, and I think we achieved that.”

Thousands lined Linden Street for the parade, which featured an energetic cast and crew in classic convertibles escorted by local high school and university bands and dancers. Fans came from as far away as Canada and England, and each had their own “Office” story. “This is my favorite show,” gushed Texan Tina Chang, a student at Savannah College of Art and Design. “It inspired me to major in film and television.” Graduate student Mikaela Maria of Philadelphia was introduced to the show years ago when classmates learned she is originally from Scranton. Maria returned to her native city to celebrate her favorite show.

The man dressed as a Dwight bobblehead had no comment, but he did confirm that was at the 2007 convention and that he is not a Scranton local. Newlyweds John Dellapenta and Hilary Woodruff of Maryland left their wedding party in front of the Elm Park United Methodist Church to pose for photos with passing cast members.

The parade wound down to the Courthouse Square bandstand, where the Scrantones played the theme song and cast members picked up instruments and microphones for an impromptu sing-along. As each actor arrived onstage, they began addressing the crowd and thanking them for their support. “Hi! Um, does anyone have a camera phone,” joked Wilson, facing a sea of amateur documentarians. The cast and crew were active on their respective Twitter accounts, posting updates and photos with fans.

Scranton’s new PNC Field quickly filled with fans for the blooper reel, series finale preview, and the cast Q&A led by moderator Andy Buckley, who portrays CEO David Wallace. As Buckley entered from the dugout and began circling the bases, fans chanted “C-E-O! C-E-O!” After everyone had settled into their seats, “The Office” creator Greg Daniels shouted, “There’s an extra chair here!”

Then, thousands rose to a standing ovation with cheers to rival Beatlemania as surprise guest Steve Carell walked onto the field. During the Q& A, it was revealed by Oscar Nunez that Carell’s presence was unexpected by the actors. “Steve was a surprise for us, too,” he gestured toward the dugout. “He had a wig on and was pretending to be a worker!”

After an often poignant, always hilarious Q&A session, the emotion was evident on each actor’s face, especially Carell’s, as he breathed, “It’s been two years. I miss them, and I know America’s going to miss them in a few days.”

Carell led the cast and crew as they circled to the far end of the field and ran along the stands, high-fiving fans and posing for photos. The gracious cast and crew of “The Office” continued the Scranton party long into the night, making appearances and even bartending at local venues.