‘Parks and Rec’ finale: Saying goodbye to the beautiful tropical fish of Pawnee

Erica Grasmick

Tuesday night I said goodbye to some of my favorite people and one of my favorite places. It felt like the end of an era. An era in which I laughed, I cried and I had an insatiable hunger for waffles.

Tuesday night I said goodbye to the Parks and Recreation Department of Pawnee, Indiana.

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After seven amazing seasons, the NBC sitcom and mockumentary “Parks and Recreation” has ended, and our weekly peek into the lives of the show’s hilarious and vibrant characters went with it. The last season consisted of 13 episodes that made us all realize just how much we will miss Leslie Knope and her loyal friends.

For me in particular, this show is difficult to say goodbye to. Leslie Knope is one of the most inspiring characters on television, a woman who is driven, compassionate and fiercely loyal to the place she calls home. As a government employee, Leslie is often overlooked and deals with criticism from the community she never ceases to serve.

But Leslie constantly rises to challenges, taking them head on with color-coded binders in hand. She tirelessly works to better the lives of others with a smile on her face the entire time. She is a thoughtful friend, a successful and hard worker and a role model. She is also the founder of Galentine’s Day, the best holiday of the entire year.

I know what you are thinking: “Geez, relax, she is a fictional character.”

But she is more than that. She is a character that represents real women. She has flaws; she is overbearing, stubborn and adorably awkward, but these make her a real woman. So although she may just be a fictional character, she is one of the greatest characters to ever grace our silver screens.

And Leslie Knope is not the only character to whom it has been difficult to say my heartfelt goodbyes. I could go on and on about why each character on this show is my best friend in my head. But instead, I will just say that this is one of the only shows I have ever watched where I could not pick my favorite person of the bunch.

Each character is so richly developed during the show’s run. It was difficult not to emotionally connect. Tom grew from a lazy showboat to a successful entrepreneur, April from an apathetic intern to a dedicated head of her own department and Andy from the adorably dumb guy that fell in a giant pit to, well, an adorably dumb guy with his own children’s television show, “Johnny Karate.”

During the series finale, we were given a glimpse into the future of each major character, as well as a few of the minor ones (including Jean-Ralphio, the somehow lovable scumbag), and I not only found myself so satisfied with each character’s send-off, but excited about their lives.

Again, it is just a television show, but wow, it was one heck of a television show. Not since I was introduced to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry have I ever wanted a fictional place to be real so badly. Oh, what I would give to eat waffles at JJ’s Diner with Ron Swanson and Leslie, to play Cones of Dunshire with Ben, to treat myself with Tom and Donna on a luxurious spa trip, to solve mysteries with FBI agent Burt Macklin or to celebrate Galentine’s Day with that poetic noble land mermaid Ann Perkins.

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But for now, I will settle for binge-watching the whole series on Netflix again during spring break (although, realistically, I am not going to be able to wait that long) because I am not yet ready to say goodbye to the wonderful characters that make up the town of Pawnee.

Those beautiful tropical fish.

Collegian A&E Writer and President of the Leslie Knope fan club Erica Grasmick can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @E_Graz_.