It’s not easy to say “Goodbye” to Pawnee, Indiana. Leslie Knope struggled with her final farewell for the last two seasons of NBC’s beloved comedy Parks and Recreation.  With bright futures ahead of them, on Feb. 24, the dutiful and treasured government employees of Pawnee road off into the sunset.2013_0808_Parks_and_Rec_Show_KeyArt_1920x1080_0

Can you pick out a favorite character on Parks and Rec? I can’t, and I’ve have had serious arguments with friends that end with, “I just love them all.”  And how can you not? From stone-faced Ron to outrageous Jean-Ralphio, every member of the Pawnee family was perfect… except for maybe Mark Brendanawicz. So, like the series finale, I’d like to give my tribute to all the members of the Parks Department.

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Parks and Rec was Amy Poehler’s official entrance into the comedy world away from Saturday Night Live. As the perky and highly motivated Leslie Knope (left), Poehler proved she was more than Tina Fey’s blonde sidekick.  Leslie’s devotion to the city that is “first in friendship, fourth in obesity” has inspired fans to become “the Leslie Knopes of whatever they do.” Her adorable relationship with nerdy Ben Wyatt could not be more perfect.  The newer seasons’ moments when Leslie deals with difficult and stressful situations with poise and tranquility make me want to stand up and applaud. I could not imagine a greater role model or friend; sometimes I wish I was Ann Perkins. Leslie made me feel like it was more than fine to eat waffles every day at the Hickey.  Thank you for everything, Pawnee Goddess.

April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza) and Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt) are what a cat and a dog would look like if they got married. Don’t take this the wrong way – these two complete each other. There are days I wake up an April and others I wake up an Andy. And if I can’t get Johnny Karate to play at my next birthday party, I will have a Craig-sized meltdown.

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Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) and Donna “Regal Meagle” (Retta) taught us all how to “treat yo self,” and my wallet has never been the same. Tom and Donna might seem materialistic and digitally-indulged, but you have to appreciate their hustle. Tom is always striving towards his next big opportunity, even if he crashes his car tweeting about it on the way. Even when Jean-Ralphio and Mona-Lisa ruin several of Tom’s business ventures, he never loses his swag. Donna schemes on the low, treating herself with side jobs and dating world-class athletes.  Let us all take a shot of Snake Juice to honor Tom and Donna.

No one personifies authenticity more than Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman). With a note that says he can “do whatever he wants,” the carnivorous Ron is the ultimate man. He started working at a sheet metal factory at age 9. Ron’s only weakness in life has been women named Tammy, and he only cried once in adulthood at the death of Li’l Sebastian.  So next time you try to half-ass something, think of Ron Swanson and “whole-ass” it.

I literally cannot explain my love for Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe) and Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott). I credit these two for saving Parks and Rec after the first two shaky seasons.  Ben is the perfect match for Leslie in every single way. These two do 19 century foreplay together, and Ben gets turned on by his wife filibustering in roller skates.  He incredibly supports Leslie in everything she does; Ben becomes Leslie’s campaign manager and “stress sponge.”  Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones) finally finds herself a keeper in the overly optimistic Chris. The health nut and the nurse start a family of their own and leave Pawnee earlier than the rest of our friends.

Garry/Jerry/Larry/Terry Gergich (Jim O’Heir) is the butt of all jokes in the Parks Department.  The man has had a fart attack. Garry enjoys his minimal tasks of organizing envelopes, and the rest of his coworkers are happy to not have him messing anything up.  Despite being constantly pranked, and rightly so, Garry lives his dream life with his impossibly attractive family.  However ridiculous Garry is, he is just as lovable all the same.

And so, after seven years, we say goodbye to Pawnee. No longer will we catch “Ya’ Heard? with Perd!” or “Pawnee Today with Joan Callamezzo.” Most comedies lose momentum after five seasons, but Parks and Rec showed no signs of aging. Here’s to hoping for a spin-off because I already miss Indiana.

Allison Plante, staff writer

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