WHEN "The Office" comes to an end next Thursday after nine seasons on NBC, it's going to feel like "somebody took my heart and dropped it into a bucket of boiling tears."
"And at the same time, somebody else is hitting my soul in the crotch with a frozen sledgehammer.
"And then a third guy walks in and starts punching me in the grief bone.
"And I'm crying, and nobody can hear me because I'm terribly, terribly, terribly alone."
At least, that's how Michael Scott might put it.
To ease the crotch pain, to soothe the grief bone and to assuage the aloneness as the series finale quickly approaches, about 10,000 fans gathered in Scranton on Saturday, May 4, for "The Office" Wrap Party, a celebration of the show, its stars and the small Pennsylvania city in which it was set.
The show's crew and cast members - including stars Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer and surprise guest Steve Carell - attended the event, which included a writers' Q&A, a parade, a musical performance and a farewell celebration.
"There are so many great memories. Can I pause for a second and say: Wow. Thank you," Carell said at the farewell celebration. "Thank you Scranton, we really appreciate it."
The fans got drunk on the giddiness of the actors and the actors got drunk on the enthusiasm of the fans, but come Friday morning, after the hour-and-15-minute series finale Thursday, everyone will be suffering from an "Office" party hangover.
'Take Your Daughter to Work Day'
Heidi Campbell, who made the trip to Scranton from Washington Township, N.J., with her husband and daughter, said her "Office" hangover will be soothed if characters Jim and Pam Halpert leave their jobs at Dunder Mifflin and make the move to Philadelphia for Jim's new job, a story line that has caused tension between "The Office" lovebirds this year.
"They'll never want for pizza or water ice again if they move to Philly," Campbell said.
But her biggest hope for the show's finale is that everything "be tied up in a nice little bow."
For years, "The Office" is something Campbell and her daughter, Madalyn, 13, have enjoyed together. When Heidi Campbell heard about the party in Scranton, she created a scavenger hunt for her daughter that included clues like having ice cream thrown at her head.
"I threw an icecream sandwich at her face and said 'Here's your surprise,' because Michael [Scott] did that in an episode," Heidi Campbell said.
Even when the family hit the road for Scranton that day, Madalyn Campbell didn't know where they were going. Heidi Campbell said her daughter started crying when she told her.
"I had no idea this party was going on," Madalyn Campbell said. "They kept it really secretive. It was awesome. It was crazy. It didn't even feel real."
Scranton native Frank Regan III said when residents first heard that the American version of the British series "The Office" would be set in Scranton, many hoped the rumor wasn't real.
"Scrantonians were a little iffy at first," he said.
But as the show draws to a close, Regan, 54, said he'll miss hearing his city's name and local landmarks on televsion.
"Scrantonians came around once they saw the magic in a bottle it was and it became quite endearing," he said. "Anytime Scranton is mentioned on the show now, it gives us a little rise."
Regan spoke as he stood outside of his family's office, the Frank M. Regan Funeral Home, waiting for a parade of the show's stars to pass by.
"We're out here because we want to give them the proper send off and pay our eternal respects," he said.
Regan's father, Frank Regan Jr., 84, said getting his funeral home's name in the show as a prospective employer on the "Job Fair" episode didn't drum up any additional business.
"I have the healthiest clientele in Lackawanna County," he said. "You want to live a long time, sign up with me."
While the younger Regan has become an avid fan of the show, the elder wasn't bowled over.
"I watched it a few times but I wasn't habitual," the elder Regan said. "What are you going to do? You gotta watch something."
The parade was nothing more than the stars in convertibles accompanied by small contingents of girls with pom-poms or teens with tubas, but what made it unique is that fans weren't stopped from approaching the stars for photos or signatures.
John and Hillary Dellapenta of Gaithersburg, Md., who aren't big fans and probably won't even watch Thursday's finale, managed to get the most photos with the show's stars because the church the couple had been married in moments prior was along the parade route.
"They scheduled this after we planned our wedding," John Dellapenta said. "We did not know anything about it."
But hard-core fan Chris Sedlak, 32, did. He broke out a giant paper-mache Dwight Schrute bobblehead he made in 2007 and wore it along the parade route.
"I knew this was going to be a crazy party so I wanted to do something just as crazy," he said.
As an auditor with PNC in Dayton, Ohio, Sedlak knows a thing or two about office life. He said his wish for the finale is simple.
"I hope everybody's happy," he said. "I don't want to see anybody crying or left off."
If the cast members' demeanor at the party was any indication of how their characters might end up, no one will be crying.
At the end of the parade route, the cast joined The Scrantones, the band that played the show's theme song, on a stage in front of the Lackawanna County Courthouse.
The actors performed songs like "Hit me with your best Michael Scott" and "Werewolves of Scranton," and cast member Creed Bratton, a onetime member of the 1960s band The Grass Roots, even performed a couple of his own tunes.
When the stars weren't busy performing, they walked the barriers along the stage, signed autographs and took photos with fans.
At one point, Rainn Wilson, who plays oddball Dwight Schrute, took the mic and said working on the show was the "most incredible" job he'll ever have.
"This is unbelievable guys, thanks for coming," Wilson said. "I wish I could sign every one of your faces - or your nipples - but it's physics."
Behind the stage, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey enjoyed the show with his family. He had one mission that day: to get a photograph of his daughter, Marena, with the show's heartthrob, John Krasinski. It is a mission he accomplished.
"This is going to help me for months," he said.
The party ended with a farewell celebration at PNC Field, where the RailRiders, a Yankees' Triple A affiliate team, plays.
A crowd of 8,000 packed the ticketed event, which began with fans from England to Canada answering trivia questions for a share of Dunder Mifflin stock.
Chairs were set up at home plate and when all of the confirmed cast was out on the field, Steve Carell, who left the show two years ago after seven seasons of playing boss Michael Scott, came out as a surprise guest.
The crowd went insane, fans rising and chanting: "Michael, Michael, Michael."
Andy Buckley, who plays Dunder Mifflin CEO David Wallace, ran an "exit interview" with the cast.
To Creed Bratton, Buckley asked where his character, who is also named Creed Bratton, ends and where he begins.
"Probably in jail," Bratton said, adding that he "was offered a film in Bangkok playing a Parkinson's man in a porno. I turned it down to be here today."
Jenna Fischer, who plays Pam Halpert, said as the show ends, she'll miss the real and the fictional people she has worked with for the last nine years.
"The cool thing about being on the show and being a fan is I got to talk to Dwight every day. I got to talk to Kevin," she said. "I'm going to miss the fictional people in my life, too."
But perhaps it was a comment from Carell, who still obviously misses his "Office" family, that best summed up what fans can expect when the show ends.
"It's been two years for me and from time to time I see these guys," Carell said. "I miss them every day and I know America is going to miss them . . . too."