There’s a familiar face missing at this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Al Roker, who has made appearances for Today along the iconic parade route for 27 years, is not at this year’s event because he’s recovering from blood clots in his leg and lungs that sent him to the hospital earlier this month.
During NBC’s broadcast of the 96th annual parade on Thursday, his fellow morning show co-hosts sent Roker well wishes.
“For the past 27 parades, at this moment, Savannah, we would turn to Al Roker, who is our Today show colleague and our best pal,” Hoda Kotb said. “But as a lot of you have heard, Al’s recovering — he’s recovering very well from a recent medical issue. And we just want to say, we love you Al. Wondering if you’re watching, but we wish you a full recovery.”
Savannah Guthrie also shared a heartfelt message with the Today show weather anchor, before announcing that Today co-host Dylan Dreyer will take his place this year.
“We love you, Al. We’ll see you next year,” Guthrie said. “And now, standing in for Al, Ms. Dylan Dreyer from the Today show. She’s positioned uptown at the parade’s start line. Hi Dylan, good morning!”
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Dreyer had some sweet words for her the weather expert. “Good morning guys, and Happy Thanksgiving. Al, we love you, we miss you and we’re thinking about you!”
During the broadcast, Dreyer spoke by phone with President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden. Along with wishing first responders and troops a Happy Thanksgiving, the president also acknowledged Roker.
“We’re going to give Al a call, too, see how he’s doing,” the President told Dreyer, to which she responded, “Al is doing great.”
On Thursday, Roker shared on his Instagram that he left the hospital. “This is my version of the Thanksgiving Day Parade — getting ready to leave the hospital!” he said as he walked through the hall. “Time to blow this taco stand. Woohoo!”
He also captioned the post: “So much to be #thankful for on the #thanksgiving day. Leaving the hospital and home for #thanksgivingdinner.”
Once he got home, Roker even tuned into the parade to watch his colleagues facilitate the show, posting a selfie in front of the TV. “Back home in time to catch a little bit of the #macysthanksgivingdayparade,” he wrote. “Missing being next to @savannahguthrie and @hodakotb.”
Roker, who has been absent from the NBC morning show for three weeks now, gave an update on his whereabouts on Nov. 18, revealing in an Instagram post that he’s been receiving medical treatment for blood clots.
“So many of you have been thoughtfully asking where I’ve been,” wrote Roker, 68, captioning a photo of a bouquet of flowers. “Last week I was admitted to the hospital with a blood clot in my leg which sent some clots into my lungs.”
“After some medical whack-a-mole, I am so fortunate to be getting terrific medical care and on the way to recovery,” he added.
“Thanks for all the well wishes and prayers and hope to see you soon. Have a great weekend, everyone,” he concluded.
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Roker has been a staple on Today as the program’s premiere weather anchor since 1996. For years before that, he made appearances as a substitute for the late Willard Scott.
He was last absent from the show in late September, after testing positive for COVID-19.
While Roker has been dealing with his health issues, Dreyer has been filling in for him on Today. She and co-hosts Guthrie, Kotb, Craig Melvin and Carson Daly spoke about their colleague on Friday’s show.
“He’s in good spirits, we’ve all talked to him,” said Guthrie, 50, with co-anchor Kotb, 58, stressing, “He’s in great spirits.”