Donny Willis, a pastor at the Westchester Church in Valhalla, dressed as a stick of butter and marching in the parade along with other breakfast foods, stole the spotlight during a brief encounter with Roker, who hit the streets for NBC during the event.
Laughing as Willis bumped into him, Roker yelled, “Get out of here, you butter!” while giving him a playful shove.
Willis responded by shouting “Happy butter Thanksgiving!” while Roker shouted “I hate to butter you up, but you’ve got to move on,” during the broadcast.
Willis made a second appearance later in the parade, this time getting on camera and yelling, ”We’re buttering you up. Butter your turkey, butter your ham.”
The incident went viral, with the “Butter Man” making national news.
"There's been so much love and positivity that's come out of this, it's been a blessing,'' Willis told the Today show. "Honestly, I just wanted to make people smile that day.”
The longtime pastor said that he was surprised that the moment has garnered as much attention as it has, including an interview on the Today show and a reunion with Roker.
“It was a fun moment…but I didn’t think anything of it…I was a youth pastor for 10 years and learned to recognize fun moments when I see them,” he wrote in a blog post. “So we made the turn at 6th Avenue and I went right back to high-fiving - telling my one corny joke and just loving the moment. I was also running down the streets.”
On Twitter, in response to someone questioning if he pushed a butter, Roker offered a tongue-in-cheek response: “You butter believe I did. That guy is toast.”
Willis got involved in the parade through a friend who works for Macy’s, though he didn’t know he would be dressed up and marching with others donning costumes that included bacon and a giant fried egg.
"In the aftermath, I would say that one of the biggest lessons is to embrace big moments like a hot potato,'' Willis added. "It's like enjoy it, enjoys the moment ... but at the end of the day, don't hold on to it so much that it becomes your identity because it's a singular moment, and it's not the totality of your life.
"I was simply the guy dressed like a stick of butter with the goal of making people who had been standing on the street since 5 a.m. smile and be happy that they came to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade," he wrote. "It was an honor to play a part in the Al Roker/Butterman encounter."
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