Back on Matt Lauer's first day as TODAY anchor on January 6, 1997, a trio of teen superfans showed up to give him a special cheer on Rockefeller Plaza.
All these years later, Shannon Tambini, Sandra Philips and Ruth Demeter showed their love for Matt hasn't dimmed one bit, returning on Friday to add to the festivities of Matt's 20th anniversary on TODAY by doing the cheer one more time.
"Al and Matt and Katie too/Don't you know that we love you/Watch them when the morning breaks/Oh what a difference TODAY makes!" they cheered.
"Thank you for watching all these years,'' Matt said after thanking them. "We really appreciate that."
Showing how much the TODAY family has stayed together over the years, Al Roker and Katie Couric also were on hand Friday to hear the same cheer the trio gave them along with Matt in 1997. Couric filled in for Savannah Guthrie all this week while Guthrie is on maternity leave.
Demeter and Philips, the latter of whom just had a baby, still live in New Jersey, while Tambini traveled from her home in Washington D.C. to surprise Matt. The three of them had reached out to TODAY to see if they could come back and be part of the celebration.
The trio has been friends since the first grade, and fans of TODAY for just as long! Phillips' mom used to bring the group into the city for TODAY's summer concerts (they saw Ricky Martin and Chicago). All three had crushes on Matt, and knew they had to come in for first day as anchor in January of 1997.
The good friends were one of several surprises on Matt's big day, including Guthrie and TODAY's Dylan Dreyer popping in during their maternity leave to congratulate him on the milestone.
In addition to the fans and his co-workers, luminaries from Elton John to Tom Hanks to Kevin Hart also wished Matt well on his 20th anniversary.
"I think what we all need to notice in this particular situation is that you're getting old," Kevin Hart joked. "Happy 75th birthday and 20th anniversary on the TODAY show — this is a double bang for you!"
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