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Local friends attend Oprah's last show

May 26, 2011

Photo provided Friends Shanelle Burns, Argos, and Mary Kunkle, Plymouth, pose outside Harpo Studios Tuesday. They waited in a long line of women to be let into the studio for Oprah’s last show.

Shanelle Burns, of Argos, was determined to be at the taping of Oprah's last show on May 24. She entered for free tickets on oprah.com a month before the event, and anxiously waited to see if she would get in. Unfortunately, when the website emailed her the Saturday before the event saying that she had two tickets, Burns didn't see the email until Monday—past the deadline to respond and claim the tickets. Not about to give up, Burns quickly responded, explaining why she wanted to go to the show—and why she wanted her friend and previous co-worker, Mary Kunkle, of Plymouth, to go with her.
"I'm glad Shanelle was so diligent to write the letter," said Kunkle. "I'm honored she chose me."
The two friends found out on Monday afternoon—the day before the show—that they had standing room only tickets if they wanted them. Burns decided to take them.
"I was like, I don't care, it's fine," said Burns. "To see Oprah, I'll stand wherever you want me to stand."
Burns and Kunkle left Plymouth at 7:45 a.m. Tuesday morning, and arrived at Harpo Studios in Chicago around 10 a.m. They were shuffled into a line of other women who also had standing room only tickets.
"All the women in line had sort of a bond; it was fun to talk to them," said Kunkle.
Once they made it inside, the two women found that the situation was different than what they expected.
"The studio is smaller than it looks on TV; it's very intimate feeling," said Burns.
"We had the best view, in my opinion—we were very close to Oprah and got to see all the celebrities coming in before the rest of the audience came in."
Burns added that emotions in the audience were running high, and said that some members of the audience began to cry when they saw Oprah walk on stage. The audience was not alone in their emotions; the talk show host herself was feeling it. During a commercial break, Burns overheard the director telling Oprah to "slow it down."
"She was really trying to keep composed until the end," said Burns.
Burns she felt emotions she didn't expect while watching the taping of the show.
"I have been watching Oprah for as long as I can remember," said Burns. "It was a part of my childhood—part of my whole life."
Kunkle, who has watched Oprah for 25 years, thought the most emotional part of the show came when Oprah said goodbye to her staff, hugging them and thanking them for their support.
"The fact that I was able to be there after 25 years of watching her (was the best part)," said Kunkle. "I always thought it would be the coolest thing to go, but I never had the opportunity."
"I feel really fortunate that we had the opportunity to go," said Burns. "It was really neat getting to hear Oprah, and (sharing) that moment with her."

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