Regulars from ‘Today’ again cover holiday event for NBC
There can be no doubt that Al Roker loves a parade.
The weekday “Today” personality is a staple of two such events during the holidays: He’ll again help NBC cover the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day, but first comes NBC’s telecast of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, marking its 93rd annual edition of filling Manhattan with season-starting joy – shared by many households across the country – on Thursday, Nov. 28.
“Every year, it’s different in a sense,” the ever-genial Roker reflects, “whether it’s the weather or different balloons or different floats. It’s still one of those things where you come to it and you’re amazed that you’re a part of people’s holiday and people’s tradition. It’s kind of mind-boggling. I grew up with this, and it never even entered my imagination that someday, I would be part of it.
“Over the last several years, more often than not, the weather has been fairly warm for it,” notes Roker. “I’ve probably just done it in a sport coat, a muffler, gloves and a hat. Last year, I bundled up only because I was on a motorcycle. Each year, it’s like, ‘How can we kill Al on Thanksgiving Day?’ It would make it a little more memorable.”
As usual, Roker will start his Macy’s Parade duties uptown, then follow the lively and colorful procession that also includes celebrities and marching bands. He’ll eventually join his “Today” colleagues Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb at their perch in front of Macy’s flagship store in New York’s Herald Square, where – before he gets there – the casts of several Broadway shows will perform numbers from their respective productions.
It’s a bit ironic that Roker has to miss those, since he’s been back on Broadway himself for much of November, reprising his part as diner owner Joe in the musical “Waitress.” Still, he says, “I’ve talked with some of the folks who perform at the parade, and depending on the weather, it can be a little bit of hardship … but they don’t mind. They love it. They’re probably performing that scene from their show in front of the biggest audience they’ll ever have. The number of people watching the parade probably rivals, if not beats, the Super Bowl.”
Adding that he’s progressing well after recent hip-replacement surgery, Roker also will have his regular role on NBC’s “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” tree-lighting special the following week, but Thanksgiving is the immediate holiday in his (and countless others’) sights. “It really isn’t work,” he maintains of covering the Macy’s Parade with his “Today” cronies. “You’re just hanging out with a couple of pals, then Santa hits the square and it’s Christmas!”