Some venues were more elaborate than others. In Manhattan, an invitation-only throng of 300 (including actress Susan Sarandon and Angela's Ashes author Frank McCourt) dined on mini-cheeseburgers, chicken fingers and stuffed mushrooms under a tent that had been erected on the barricaded street corner in front of Tom's Restaurant (whose facade doubled as Monk's on Seinfeld). Guests strained to see the finale on 10 strategically placed TV sets equipped with loudspeakers; meanwhile, some 1,000 miles away in St. Louis, 5,000 fans settled into lawn chairs to watch the show projected onto the side of a seven-story building as street vendors hawked beer and bratwurst. "There's a little sadness tonight," said Ron Storie, 23, a psychiatric technician who dressed for the event in a Newmanesque blue shirt and dark shorts. "So this is like a big support group down here."
Every party, it seemed, teemed with Seinfeld clones. "I used to be normal, but every day I wake up, I'm more like Kramer," said comedian Mitchell Lloyd, 38, who won the Miami Planet Hollywood's lookalike grand prize (a seven-day Caribbean cruise).
At The Palace, a Hollywood club, 1,000 guests (including Seinfeld occasional supporting actor Reni Santoni, who played restaurateur Poppie) turned up for "An Evening About Nothing" party to benefit the Family Assistance Program, which finds shelter for destitute women and children. Most of the nearly $60,000 raised came from an Internet auction of Seinfeld artifacts. The hottest item—an autographed "Soup Nazi" script—fetched $9,800; a mountain bike that had hung in Jerry's apartment went for $2,100.
As for Seinfeld himself, he wound up watching the finale at a private party in Los Angeles with, among other guests, John F. Kennedy Jr. Earlier, the duo had ventured onto The Tonight Show, where Seinfeld admitted (not unlike his show's critics) to being fed up with all the hype and the hoopla leading up to his Seinoff. "Can you imagine what it's been like for me?" he mockwhined to host Jay Leno. "I'm sick of myself"
Not everyone shared his ennui. At the St. Louis party, senior citizens Clem and Estelle Billingsly set up chairs in front of their apartment building to watch the episode, their first Seinfeld. And what did they think of it? "The show is very nice," said Estelle. "I find it very interesting." For his part, Clem had a harder time getting with the program. Turning to his wife, he said: "What's that fellow's name? Steinfeld?"