Al Roker's Infamous 'Butter Man' Clash, Explained

The 'Today' weatherman and the 'Butter Man,' aka Donny Willis, became viral sensations at the 2019 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Today show weatherman Al Roker has been a beloved TV staple for years now, but back in 2019, an unlikely figure rose from the crowded streets of New York City to become his rival: Butter Man. In a feud that is still talked about today, Roker's live coverage of the 93rd Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was continuously interrupted by the Butter Man, Pastor Donny Willis clad in a butter costume, in a hilarious feud that quickly went viral and spurred hundreds of light-hearted memes.

The hilarious squabble began on Thanksgiving morning 2019 as Roker, decked out in a helmet for part of the preview coverage, reported live for Today's parade coverage. At one moment on live TV, the fan-favorite meteorologist playfully shoved a man in costume as a stick of butter. Roker even managed to get in a few puns, saying, "hate to butter you up, but you've got to move on." He later said, "Get out of here, Butter! I can't believe it's not butter." In one humorous exchange, as Butter Man ran to keep up with Roker as he rode along on a sidecar, Willis said, "We're buttering you up! Butter your turkey, butter your ham!" before Roker chimed in with, "and that's why everybody loves clowns."

As the moments went viral, quickly becoming fan-favorite scenes from the 93rd Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, the man in the odd costume was identified as Pastor Donny Willis of Westchester County. Willis had been attending the annual festive event in a volunteer capacity as one of Macy's "Breakfast Clowns" in the parade, he revealed. According to Willis, the clowns were "encouraged" to run in the streets to "incorporate a personal touch with the audience," which led to his run-ins with Roker.

Speaking on the Today show just days later, Willis called the viral moment "a blessing," as it had brought "so much love and positivity" on social media. He added that his biggest takeaway from the moment was to "embrace big moments like a hot potato." Although their interactions had been labeled as a "feud," both Willis and Roker agreed that there were no hard feelings between them. In fact, they said that they were "like best friends now."

A year after the pair went viral for this shenanigans, Roker and Butter Man reunited at 94th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2020. Reflecting on the moment that sparked the feud, Willis told Roker said "we were coming around the corner last year, and I came over to the grandstands and my wife Ashley jumps out and she said, 'Donny what did you do?' And I said, 'I don't know, What did I do?' And she said, 'They talked about you, we heard your voice!' And I said, 'I don't know, I gotta go.' And I had to run away."

After being absent from Today's parade coverage in 2022 due to health issues, Roker confirmed earlier this month that he will be back for NBC's Macy's Thanksgiving Parade coverage Thursday morning. The 97th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade kicks off at 9 a.m. ET on Thursday, Nov. 23.