University Student Rides Office Fan Craze

Aug 10, 2009

University of Scranton senior Andrea Scahill saw an opportunity for Scranton with the hit television series “The Office.”

“I would see people jumping out of their cars to take photos of sites featured in the show,” Scahill said. She and her friend, Theresa O’Connor, a fellow Clarks Summit resident, worked on a concept of starting “Office” tours in Scranton at a business entrepreneurship workshop offered by the Great Valley Technology Alliance. Their team placed first in the Great Valley’s Entrepreneurial Institute competition held in February.

The duo approached local businesses and people, including University of Scranton alumnus and Office Convention organizer Tim Holmes, about getting the idea off the ground. Now, several tour guides lead groups of upwards of 50 people, many of whom are out-of-towners, through Scranton, stopping at all the big-name places every Saturday.

The Office Fan Tours, which will run weekly until Aug. 29 and monthly in the fall, not only highlight the places in Scranton mentioned in the show, but also serve as a way to educate people about the history and goings-on in the city.

“The show really portrays Scranton values,” Scahill said. “We’re a big family in this city. If you know someone, you stop and say hi to them. It’s a great way for us to give back to fans, who have supported the show, and a great opportunity for out-of-towners to come see our city.”

The tour starts on the second floor of The Mall at Steamtown next to the Scranton Welcomes You sign, seen in the opening credits of “The Office.” Life-sized cutouts, painted by local artist Jeff D’Angelo, greet participants, who on the tour will also see the Chamber of Commerce, Coopers, Poor Richard’s Pub and the Penn Paper building, which is also featured in the opening credits. Guides also point out The University of Scranton campus as the headquarters for the 2007 Office Convention.

The tour has featured some guest appearances by members of the cast. Past guests include Bobby Ray Shafer (Bob Vance), Melora Hardin (Jan Levison) and Andy Buckley (CFO David Wallace), as well as Jennie “Tanster” Tan, whose Office Tally blog is about the NBC show.

Scahill recognizes the potential “The Office” has to impact the city’s image. The Office Fan Tours have already gained national press coverage, including a feature story in USA Today.

“Whenever I tell people I’m from Scranton, I suddenly become the coolest person in the room,” Scahill said. “People want to know, ‘What’s it like in Scranton?’”

Scahill said she hopes, through the tours, to teach people about the history of Scranton and help them distinguish between fact and fiction on the show.

“This is a chance for us to share our city,” Scahill said. “It’s such an up-and-coming place. It’s a great place to live. It’s close to New York and Philadelphia, and there are jobs being created. It’s exciting. There are things being done to entice people to come to Scranton.”

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