Al Roker strolls the Detroit riverfront, kicking off his day in Motown

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

America's weatherman Al Roker visited our neck of the woods Wednesday, starting his day at Cullen Plaza next to the nautical carousel on Detroit's Riverwalk. 

Greeted by a throng of fans, including many members of the Detroit Riverwalkers, Roker did his morning weather check on NBC's "Today" show from the plaza, with rainclouds and the Renaissance Center in the background.

The Detroit Riverwalkers is a group of seniors who meet at Cullen Plaza a few times a week to get exercise. "I think it's spectacular," said Roker.

NBC’s "Today" weatherman Al Roker prepares to do his live weather broadcast segments from Cullen Plaza Detroit Riverfront Wednesday morning, June 29, 2022.

"When I go to different cities, I try to walk. I walked some of this last night, yesterday evening," Roker told The Detroit News. "There's something about water, and a city, and being able to connect, and the idea that there's a whole group of people that are connected to this is pretty cool." 

Later, the dapper journalist, dressed in a blue suit and white fedora-style hat, will visit American Coney Island downtown and vegan coney C.M.O. Detroit. 

Roker, 67, talked about his choice to visit these two coney islands, rather than the often-covered American vs. Lafayette coney story. 

"You look at what's happening and why people love something, but you also look at how people are taking it forward. It seemed like a great idea," he said, adding that he thinks more people are getting into plant-based diets, and it doesn't have to be something you do for every single meal. "Why not look at how people are taking an idea that is so beloved, but then it can also be good for you." 

He's now into season two of his Peacock show "Family Style with Al Roker," which shows him visiting American cities and talking about the families and history behind favorite restaurants. 

"These smaller places, especially family-owned places, they are members of the community, they are the community and the community is them," said Roker, adding that he thinks the way restaurants had to innovate during the pandemic have made them come out stronger in some ways. 

The "Today" show, celebrating 70 years this season, is known for giving everyday folks a chance to be on national television, and this morning in Detroit was no exception. They came by land and sea, as two thatched-roof tiki boats pulled up from the Detroit River to join the fun. 

Krystal Cowan, left, and her mom Patricia Cowan, both of Detroit, came out to see Al Roker's live broadcast from Cullen Plaza Detroit Riverfront Wednesday morning, June 29, 20022.

Valerie Mills of Commerce Township, celebrating her 9th birthday Wednesday, was hoping to get a glimpse of Al and held up a brightly colored sign. 

"We wanted to do something special, she wanted to see Al and say hi," said her mother Sarah Mills, who watches the "Today" show regularly. "He's funky and he seems so nice."

Detroit native Garland McWilliams came down for the experience and called Roker his "main man." 

"I've always been a fan of the 'Today' show, especially Al Roker," said McWilliams at Cullen Plaza on Wednesday. "I heard he was coming to Detroit and I had to be here. His personality's great. He's a real person and he's been through some things that a lot of people have been through and he's an inspiration to a lot of people." 

McWilliams noted the enthusiasm of the crowd gathered and was happy to be showing off "our beautiful city" to a national audience.

Twitter: @melodybaetens