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Festivus from 'Seinfeld' becomes a reality at Museum of York County

Museum of York County.
Culture and Heritage Museums
Museum of York County.

So which holiday or holidays are you celebrating this December? Christmas? Hanukkah? Kwanzaa? How about Festivus? That’s the fictitious alternative to Christmas founded by the character Frank Constanza in the show "Seinfeld."

Festivus becomes a reality this Friday at the Museum of York County. It’s holding an adults-only event called "Festivus: Seinfeld and the Natural World."

Joining me now to talk more about it is Allison Taylor, who is the museum’s assistant site director.

Marshall Terry: First off, can you talk a little bit more about Festivus and what it includes for those who may not be “Seinfeld” fans?

Allison Taylor: So, Festivus is a holiday that Frank Costanza, George's dad, created when they were children. There's a pole, a Festivus pole, not a Christmas tree or Hanukkah candles, and you perform feats of strength, and you air your grievances. So, if you have a lot of problems with people, we're going to have an air your grievance podium and we're going to have feats of strength where people will have an opportunity to display their feats of strength, and we will have a Festivus pole, so anybody who likes the alternative holiday, I think will enjoy the event.

Terry: How did you decide to do this?

Taylor: Well, my husband and I are huge “Seinfeld” fans. I've been in the museum field for 20 years, and I've always wanted to do a “Seinfeld”-related event. Whatever event we do here at the Museum of York County, has to tie into natural history and be part of our mission. So, I just started asking around, and, come to find out, there are quite a few “Seinfeld” fans on staff. So we just had a preliminary planning meeting to see if there was enough content there, how we thought the event could go and that's kind of how it took off.

Terry: And as you mentioned, the museum, in order to have an event like this, there has to be a connection to the natural world, right? And you even bill this event as an evening to explore the connections between the show and the natural world. What kind of connections are you talking about it?

Taylor: There are quite a few episodes that touch on the natural world. There's the episode where George pretends [that] he's a marine biologist and he has to pull the golf ball out of the whale's blowhole. So, we're going to talk about whales and why you shouldn't be hitting golf balls in the ocean or any body of water. We're also going to have a whale putt-putt. You'll learn some science, natural history stuff, but you'll also have some little tongue-in-cheek fun. We're going to do what it takes to produce one square of toilet paper, which very much relates to the natural world and our resources.

Terry: Of course, another “Seinfeld” reference there.

Taylor: Yep, another “Seinfeld” reference. We're going to have a talk about wild dogs and have a “dingo ate your baby” game. We’re going to talk about why squirrels and hawks really aren't friends, and that relates to the Merv Griffin episode of “Seinfeld,” where George had to nurse a squirrel back to health and Kramer had turned his apartment into the Merv Griffin set and the zoologist had brought a hawk and it did not end very well for George or the squirrel.

The Catawba Riverkeepers are going to be here talking about clean rivers, and that relates to the episode where Kramer is swimming in the East River, one of the most polluted rivers in the world. One of the more famous episodes is the one where Elaine dances and so, we are going to have a dance area, but we're also going to talk about how Elaine’s dance moves relate to mating rituals, like the Blue-footed booby and the Peacock spider. So, you'll be able to see their mating rituals while you are practicing your own Elaine moves.

Terry: It’s been about 25 years since the show ended. Why do you think it remains so popular?

Taylor: I think because the writing is incredible, how Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld and all the writers have these multiple threads going in a 30-minute episode and they all come back at the end and tie together somehow. To me, there's never been a show like “Seinfeld,” where it's just very adult comedy. I read a “Seinfeld” book one time and Larry David's quote is that he wanted a show where there was no learning and no hugging. I think that sort of humor resonates with a lot of people. And it still resonates with the brand-new generation of people. It's just one of those cultural touchstones that a lot of people connect to.

Terry: OK. So you are encouraging people to come to the event dressed as their favorite “Seinfeld” character. Who will you be dressed as?

Taylor: Since I'm actually going to be working the event, I'm wearing a Festivus T-shirt, one staff member's husband is coming as The Soup Nazi, and I think we're going to have a Mr. Bookman, the librarian police officer or detective. I imagine we're going to have a lot of Kramers, some Elaines. So, I'm encouraging people to dress as their favorite “Seinfeld” character or wear a puffy shirt or anything that they want to do to get into the feel.

Museum of York County's “Festivus: Seinfeld and the Natural World” is Friday, Dec. 15 from 6 to 9 p.m. The event is for those 21+. Admission for members is $10 and non-members $15.

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Marshall came to WFAE after graduating from Appalachian State University, where he worked at the campus radio station and earned a degree in communication. Outside of radio, he loves listening to music and going to see bands - preferably in small, dingy clubs.