About 1,500 people showed up for an early morning live broadcast of the TODAY Show from Juneau’s Mendenhall Glacier. They waved signs, cheered and waited hours for a chance to be on national TV for a few seconds.
On live television, NBC’s TODAY Show news anchor Natalie Morales praised Juneau’s crowd.
“Hats off to Juneau because all of these folks, about 1,500 of them, they’re here at 3:30 in the morning, so you guys are incredible. Lots of pride here in Juneau as you can see.”
When Morales was off camera, she talked to the crowd, held babies and took pictures with adoring fans.
“I feel bad. I mean they all showed up here at, like, 3 o’clock- No, earlier than that. It was, like, 2 o’clock in the morning. So I want to make sure everybody gets a little camera time, or if not, gets a good selfie out of this,” Morales says.
Juneau resident Neely Perisich arrived at the visitor center at 2:30. She didn’t come empty handed.
“My sign says, ‘Hi Kerri and Andrea.’ They live in Newburg, Oregon. They’re my sister and my niece and they watch the TODAY Show every day,” Perisich says.
The sign has a border of blinking white lights. Perisich is with her partner Dave Velasquez. He’s wearing a cut out of Al Roker’s head. He’s a big fan of the TODAY Show co-anchor and weatherman.
“So I got an Al head. He’s got a perfectly shaped head for cutting out on paper. There’s no hair or anything,” Velasquez says.
Most of the crowd inside and lining the walls of the pavilion wanted to be there for the excitement, like Tom Chard.
“Years later, people are going to be saying, ‘Well, where were you?’ And, ‘You remember the TODAY Show came around?’ Yeah, yeah, yeah. The line was out the door. We loved it. It was great. It was a lot of fun,” he says.
Eileen McIver had an ulterior motive for being at the live broadcast. She’s a columnist for the Chilkat Valley News in Haines.
“I wanted to pitch this idea I have for a sitcom, so I’m here to get the attention of someone from NBC. Not sure who. I don’t really have a plan,” McIver says.
McIver is writing a sign on a pizza box, which says, “NBC, you have to hear my pitch. We’ll talk.”
The broadcast from Juneau kicked off a series, #TODAYTakesOff, which sends Morales to famous destinations around the country. She spent a couple days in Juneau kayaking, ice climbing, exploring the Mendenhall Glacier ice caves and visiting Admiralty Island bears. Her adventures were featured on the show.
But this is the first live broadcast from the state.
It’s been a long time coming. The state’s commerce department first pitched the idea to NBC in 2003.