‘Friends’ fans travel miles to celebrate show’s 25th anniversary

Screens played famous scenes on loop around the pop-up in Fenway, Boston, Nov. 21, 2019. Photo by Anoushka Dalmia/ BU News Service

By Anoushka Dalmia
BU News Service

BOSTON — A pop-up experience celebrating the 25th anniversary of the popular TV show “Friends” launched Thursday in the Fenway. More than 50 original props from the show and merchandise, ranging from clothing items to kitchen utilities, brought fans from all over the northeast to the event and provided plenty of photo opportunities.

Fans lounged around in Joey and Chandler’s recliners, took note of cleaning tips from Monica and played favorite quotes on a jukebox. A recreation of the iconic Central Perk sat near the exit while a small bakery sold Friends-themed desserts from Somerville bakeries Union Square Donuts and Finesse Pastries on the other side of the store.

“The One With The Pop-Up” had a museum-like feel to it, with props protected behind glass cases, screens that played famous scenes on loop and a gigantic graphic timeline tracking the romantic relationships of all six characters through the show’s ten-season run. 

Guests were greeted with an apt “Welcome! Could you BE any more excited?” and some trivia questions by staff member Joanna Chen, 27. 

Other staff-members helped fans with photo locations, which had cameras signs nearby. Fans could put their number and email into a display screen and the photos would automatically be sent to them.

The pop-up was organized by Superfly, a company that designs “shared experiences” in partnership with Warner Bros. The group decided to hold a second edition of the pop-up in Boston after its success in downtown New York from Sept. 7 to Oct. 6. 

Laura Wishner, 46, was brought to the event as a surprise from her friend after Wishner hadn’t managed to get tickets in New York, her home state.

“I grew up with this show and I must have seen it 100 times,” Wishner said. “Sometimes I watch five episodes a day, even fall asleep to it!” 

Even at $33 a ticket, a spokesman said they are selling out at an “incredible rate.”

Brooklyn Vaillancourt, 19, drove 90 minutes from Athol to Boston for the opening day.

“I’ve been reciting lines to my dad the entire time!” she said.

Brooklyn Vaillancourt, 19, poses in Chandler and Joey’s “apartment.” at Friends pop-up in Fenway, Boston, Nov. 21, 2019. Photo by Anoushka Dalmia/ BU News Service

Alex Kohlman, 22, has worked for the pop-up both in New York and Boston. He said his job is mainly to make sure that guests stay excited and have fun.

“We see a lot of younger kids, 11 to 12 years old, who are over the moon excited to be here,” he said. “You wouldn’t expect them to be into a show from the 90s, but one kid almost toppled over a case, shouting, ‘Oh my god it’s science boy!’ So I think Netflix has given “Friends” a second life.” 

“We talk about the show every day!” Emily Duval, 21, and Aaron Basiliere, 22, of Haverhill said. They even came to the event dressed up in “Friends” merchandise.

Emily Duval and Aaron Basiliere came dressed up in Friends merchandise to the pop-up in Fenway, Boston, Nov. 21, 2019. Photo by Anoushka Dalmia/BU News Service

The pop-up will be in Boston until Jan. 5, 2020. Fans are invited to try the “moist-maker” for a unique Thanksgiving meal next Thursday at a Friendsgiving version of the pop-up. Special events will also be held on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, but tickets will be priced at a higher rate on all three days. 

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