The Office Convention, Scranton, and Perceptions.

Downtown — By on February 13, 2008 at 8:31 pm

It seems like so long ago that Michele Dempsey was chatting up the possibility of hosting an event in Scranton for “The Office” which was fresh off its Emmy win. I feel fortunate to have been privy to the event from concept to crescendo and I wanted to share why the event was so much more than a fan convention.

I just touched down for six months of military training in Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. The course I am attending has 200 other junior officers from all over the country. In 1997 I was at this very same base; and when my fellow soldiers would ask where I was from, they would say, “Oh yeah, I have been through there by the bug junk yard;” or “The old coal town right?” This time I was literally the guy from Scranton and people from Vermont, California, and Indiana all said, “‘The Office,’ I love that show;” and “Did you get to go to the convention?”

I think it is so amazing that our little Electric City was once the slumtown mentioned jokingly in “Home Alone,” “Kingpin,” and “All in the Family.” Now Scranton is hip, to quote the Washington Post, “Jim Halpert hip.”

To me it is not about the PR buzz, “The Office,” a medical school, or the rejuvenated Spruce Street. It is about the people that embody the change, the resurgence, the electricity. It is about a private citizen like Michele Dempsey who had an idea and brought it to life against all odds. It is refreshing to hear how cool Scranton is while I am in Oklahoma, Jim Halpert cool.

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