As people across the country prepare to tune into the 94th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday, an iconic moment from last year's event is being remembered. During the parade's 93rd outing in 2019, Today weatherman Al Roker's coverage of the event was overtaken by his infamous "feud" with the “Butter Man,” a moment that immediately went viral.
Taking to the streets of New York City last Thanksgiving Day, Roker, who was decked out in a helmet for part of the preview coverage, was seen playfully shoving a man in costume as a stick of butter. The meteorologist even managed to get in a few puns, stating, "I hate to butter you up, but you've got to move on," before later adding, "Get out of here, Butter! I can't believe it's not butter!" Another clash between Roker and the Butter Man took place not long after as Butter Man ran to keep up with Roker as he rode along on a sidecar, exclaiming, "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."
"It's like, enjoy it, enjoy the moment, butter the moment," he said. "But at the end of the day, don’t hold onto to it so much that it becomes your identity, because it's a singular moment, but it's not that totality of your life."
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." Willis had even teased that the Butter Man could potentially make a return for the 2020 event, quipping, "Twitter says I have to be!" For now, though, fans will have to wait until Thursday to see if the Butter Man makes an appearance during the annual event that will look a little different this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 94th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will air on Thursday, Nov. 26 from 9 a.m. until noon in all time zones on NBC. According to Today, Macy's, NBCUniversal, and Verizon are also providing a live stream from the streets of Manhattan, which will kick off at 8:30 a.m. ET on Verizon's Twitter feed and YouTube platforms.