Pat Collins has been delighting News4 audiences with his unique storytelling for 30 years, and it wasn’t a skill he needed time to learn. We’ve got the video to prove it.
Back in 1992, News4 sent Collins to Spain for the Summer Olympics. He introduced Barcelona to many in the D.C. area, including some candid comments from American tourists getting a glimpse of their first topless beach.
But local news is his “daily bread,” and he’s covered some bizarre stories over the years, like his continuing coverage of the Tide laundry detergent theft trend of recent years.
His fashion sense is almost as well-known as his reporting style. The glasses, the sweaters, the cargo pants, but particularly his hats, like this classic he donned when the former altar boy covered Pope Francis’ September visit to D.C.
Another of his hats had viewers recalling the Gorton’s fisherman when News4 sent Collins to Annapolis to cover Hurricane Irene in August 2011.
But of course his real impact on News4’s weather coverage comes when it snows, when he breaks out another familiar hat and, of course, the Pat Collins Snow Stick. That shtick began a long, long time ago, when he simply would grab a yardstick to see how much of the white stuff we were getting.
It became such a staple of the local evening news that it earned its own brand and even came to life on Twitter. Everyone had to have one.
News4 doesn’t deal in yardsticks, but we have a few spares, so the Pat Collins Snow Stick isn’t just a reporting tool, but a prize as well. Pat challenges viewers to share their best snow-day pictures of various themes, like this one inspired by Pat’s own snow hat in January 2014.
But those aren’t his greatest snow hits. What bigger honor than having Jon Stewart feature his 15-inches of fun as the Moment of Zen on “The Daily Show” after a sandwich from Jersey Mike’s was delivered to him on the street as he reported during Carmageddon, the major snowstorm that paralyzed D.C.-area roads on Jan. 26, 2011.
During that same storm, as Collins trended on Twitter, radio station DC101 immortalized him in cocktail, creating the recipe for a Snowy Pat Collins.
And who can forget Brenda, the snow angel who appeared in leggings and a fur hat during Snowmageddon in February 2010. Always a pro, Pat completed his hit for the broadcast (Look! It’s his old yardstick!), and always a gentleman, he then escorted Brenda to an Exxon gas station to get coffee.
That reminds us of something often overheard in the newsroom: "I can't believe the things people will say and do for Pat Collins!" And in particular, that interaction comes when he's out on the street looking for Washington Redskins fans ahead of a big game.
When the Redskins returned to the playoffs in January, Collins decided to simulate their game against the Green Bay Packers. He found a couple of gamers and a Madden video game to do it, though the home team didn’t fare as well on the actual field.
A few years earlier, when that NFL team 40 miles up I-95 was marching to the Super Bowl, Collins sought Redskins fans were doing the unthinkable thing his own (gasp!) son had done: turned purple and rooted for the Baltimore Ravens.
High-tech, Pat is not (he once worked with a company-issued iPad for about three-and-a-half hours before returning to his trusty legal pad), but why should he be? Pat has said his favorite News4 highlight is his demonstration of how two F-16s escorted a United Airlines flight back to Dulles International Airport after a fight broke out following takeoff in May 2011. Lacking video of the escort, he enlisted the help of two men at the airport and recreated the event with paper planes.
Admittedly, that was a pretty brilliant way to solve that problem and tell that story.
But can it really compete with disguising oneself as grapes in order to interview a banana? A little Fruit of the Loom inspiration, and the legend of the Banana Man was born.
Who can pick a favorite? Actually, we suspect our favorite is yet to come.
Happy anniversary, Pat. We love you so much more than the pizza they feed us while working through blizzards!