updated 05/15/2014 AT 1:00 PM ET
•originally published 05/16/2014 AT 6:00 AM ET
The first lady of network news is leaving The View, the show she created and has hosted ever since, after Friday’s episode. Gathering at the Four Seasons in New York City on Wednesday evening were Walters’s co-hosts past (Meredith Vieira, Joy Behar, Lisa Ling, Star Jones and Debbie Matenopoulos) and present (Whoopi Goldberg, Jenny McCarthy and Sherri Shepherd). as well as a bevy of other stars.
Also celebrating Walters, 84, were Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Robin Roberts, Michael Douglas, Hoda Kotb, Savannah Guthrie, George Stephanopoulos and wife Ali Wentworth, Al Roker and wife Deborah Roberts and Joan Rivers.
So what excites the veteran journalist most about retirement? “I’m looking forward to not having a schedule,” she told PEOPLE. “I’ve always had a schedule. I’m not sure I’d know what it would be like.”
As the stars mingled, they couldn’t help but share their favorite Barbara memories. “She’s the kind of person who can interview a world leader and then five seconds later, she’s sitting with a Kardashian,” Kotb said. “She has the magic where, somehow when you look into her eyes, you want to tell her your secrets.”
For Wentworth, a former View guest co-host, it’s on a personal note: “Barbara came to our wedding and she’s always been supportive of us as a couple, which I love.”
Vieira, who on Thursday joined the other 10 panelists featured throughout The View’s 17-year history, is looking forward to reminiscing with past co-hosts. “It’s just so much fun to catch up because we don’t see each other anymore and we spent all that time together,” she said. “That show changed all of our lives. We owe it all to Barbara because she hand-picked us.”
And funny lady Behar’s best piece of advice from Walters: “Don’t pee, because if you go to the bathroom, you will miss the opportunity to book someone for an interview.”
And after so many “gets” in her career, is there anyone that Walters wishes she interviewed?
“I haven’t interviewed the Pope, we’d all like to do that. I haven’t interviewed Queen Elizabeth. You know, every day there is someone new,” she said. “I mean, who knew about the Sterlings last month? Now [you do]. That’s the joy of news – just when you think you’ve done it all, you haven’t.”