Times Square was packed with fans this morning as Sam Champion greeted the crowd that formed out on the plaza to commemorate his last day on Good Morning America.
His emotional co anchors took a "stroll down memory lane" beginning with the popular weatherman's first appearance on the network in 1989. They also showed clips of him reporting the weather from virtually every part of the nation. From California fires, to the Alaska wildlife refuge, to being knee-deep in water in the heart of hurricane Sandy, ABC proved that Champion is a fearless and dedicated weatherman.
Producers surprised Champion with a gag reel, which got laughs from the weatherman and his co anchors:
The network used the opportunity to welcome Champion's replacement, Ginger Zee, who was broadcasting from Denver today. "I did not send her to Denver, the coldest place," joked Champion.
Co-anchor Josh Elliott added, "I didn't know we were hazing!"
In a lighthearted "turning over the galoshes" ceremony, Champion gave Zee a pair of Hunter boots.
His co-hosts gave their misty-eyed well wishes. "It's been a gift every single day. You are the best live broadcaster I've ever worked with," said Elliot.
After all the heartwarming sendoffs, Champion, visibly upset, said, "This is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. I can't. Let's just go to break."
To end the festivities, a weather-themed cake was rolled out.