Al Roker return(ed)s!

Students crowd Al Roker after breaking the world record

Students crowd Al Roker after breaking the world record; Photo courtesy of Chuck Perkins

If you’ve been paying attention to our social media or The Today Show at all this past week, you may have noticed we had a certain special guest on campus Friday morning. Al Roker, returned to campus to broadcast an attempt to break the world record for the longest conga line on ice. The entire event was broadcasted live on the today show starting at around 8AM and only going to about 9AM. What you didn’t see was all the behind the scenes work that went into it, including the meetings and the practices. It was a long and exciting week that lead up to the morning of so let me walk you through it!

Mandatory Meeting #1: Monday, March 27th: My friends and I had signed up to participate in Rokerthon the week before our first meeting. We each had a ton of questions as to how this whole thing was going to be run. Obviously it was going to be aired on live TV and being a broadcasting major and going to filmed and live TV events in my life I knew that everything had to be incredibly structured in order for it to run smoothly. At our first meeting, they mentioned that everything could change when the producers for NBC showed up so to expect some things such as the timing to change, and it did, but I’ll get into that later! At one point during the meeting, they brought up a screen that had a few people’s responses to the question that we had to fill out when we signed up “What is your skating ability?” and of course my dumb answer got put up there. The funny thing is I didn’t even see it until they were about to change the slide but there in the corner of the screen I saw, “Decent, like I can balance on one leg but I can’t go backwards” so that was kind of strange. I ended up talking with one of my friends after the meeting who also thought she had a normal answer but they took her answer and posted it in the slideshow as another “funny” answer. Following their presentation which included the rules of breaking a world record and how we would be counted, President Stanley came in and gave us a few words of encouragement to get us psyched about the big day. After about an hour we were told that our next mandatory obligation for Rokerthon would be Wednesday so we all headed out and returned to the ice arena in a few days.

Mandatory Rehearsal: Wednesday, March 29th: I ended up walking over with my friend and as soon as we walked into the arena we were separated into our groups that we were assigned over an email that corresponded to a color. I ended up being Hunter Green 1 so I was separated from my friends and placed in a row of people that I would be congaing with on Friday. I was sort of disappointed that I was not able to form a group with people that I knew, but I understood that this way was the easiest way to do it. We had another meeting to start off the rehearsal then we practiced signing in getting our skates and going through the turnstiles to swipe our IDs so that we could be counted towards the record. We all practiced for about an hour and a half, maybe longer, and we worked out all of the kinks like when turning figuring out that you could feel a force trying to detach you from the person in front of you so you really had to hold on tight! Following that practice is when a lot of the people who put it all together became frantic that we would not have enough people to break the record. They urged us to bring our friends, even those who had not gone to the two mandatory things that everyone at the practice had gone to. I texted my friends who I knew were not going because they couldn’t make it to the practices and they were happy that they could break the record too! After all of that it was time to mentally prepare for Friday!

Rokerthon Day: Friday, March 31st: 4:45AM was my call time which I was emailed on Thursday. My team were the first ones on ice but thankfully we were not the ones who ended up leading the line, that’s a lot of pressure! When we arrived I had a table that I had to sign in at and then I was given a wristband and a t-shirt and had to find my skates and go sit down. I was so happy that I was given a green shirt because they either gave you a green or a gold shirt and gold is not and has never been a good color on me. Once i threw the shirt on I laced up my skates, ate a banana that was placed on my chair and waited for the excitement to start. People had scattered arrival times up until around 5:15 so the seating for the skaters started to fill up quickly. The today show was airing on the TVs where we were seated at the entrance to the ice arena that people use during open skate and various camera crews were on the walkway above us at the top of the ice arena and every now and then we would see a crowd shot of us come up on the TV to which everyone would look up and see this huge camera and wave. The schedule of rehearsing the morning of then taking a break to eat and returning to the ice for the real attempt was thrown out the window on the morning of. We waited around and all saw the timing on the schedules we were given pass. We ended up getting onto the ice at around 6:30AM if I am not mistaken and then were told that we did not have enough time to eat and get back on the ice so we would be given food at the end at 9AM. I had been awake since 4:00AM and only ate a banana so I was very hungry at this point but I didn’t really mind that breakfast was moved because I saw how long it took everyone to get on the ice and didn’t want to be rushed while eating. We watched as NBC filmed Al Roker doing a few crowd interaction shots which was cool to see. They also had the Today Show streaming on the jumbotron so while we waited to do the conga we had something to entertain us. There was an intro that featured some members of the Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey teams as well as the Ice Effects, Oswego’s synchronized skating team which you can watch a video that another one of the social media interns Erika Truschke took below!

(Audio is crowd cheering with booming music, as the skating team makes a few loops in front of the camera, as Al Roker rides a Zamboni flanked by hockey players.)

I stood along the boards the the left during that and we had heard that Al Roker was on a Zamboni before we saw the intro but none of us knew what they were talking about until we watched the intro being filmed. Following the video you just saw we waited around a little more than got into position to do the conga for at least five minutes until someone told us to stop. According to people closer to Al Roker when it was time to begin he blew a horn but a lot of people could not hear it so we all started at different times. When it was actually going we were able to hear other groups yelling what foot they were stepping on so we were able to sync up with them. This happened a couple times of the course of the seven minutes we did the conga. At the end of the time, no one told us to stop so there was some confusion there too among the students on ice. Finally, we were told by the person from Guinness that we almost doubled the old record, which was 353 skaters set by some people in the UK, on Friday morning we were able to get 593 students to break the record. Somehow, I was able to find myself in a screenshot of the conga line so I’ll post that picture right here!

That tiny speck in the green hat and green shirt is me!

That tiny speck in the green hat and green shirt is me!

Overall, this experience was really fun and definitely brought students together. I met a bunch of new people who I never would have met if we hadn’t been placed on a team together and I got a free shirt, hat, lanyard and hot chocolate out it. I’m happy to say that I was a part of Rokerthon 3 and was able to break the world record for the longest conga line on ice with my fellow students! If you ever get the opportunity to do something like this, go for it, my thought process was you can always catch up on sleep but when is the next time you will be able to break a record on TV? Never! I had a lot of fun doing it and I hope you all tuned in!

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