Today show with Hoda and Kathie Lee draws big crowd at College of Charleston

Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb talk to the crowd at the College of Charleston Cistern Thursday morning. Buy this photo

Students, tourists and locals turned out in droves this morning to be a part of the audience for the NBC Today show at the College of Charleston.

Two editions of the show’s fourth-hour with hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb happened amid the towering live oaks of the Cistern.

One was taped for broadcast Friday. Another, which was carried live, featured the hosts making their entrance to the campus in a horse-drawn carriage. A performance by the Cougar cheerleaders and entertainment from the Center for Birds of Prey in Awendaw were part of the mix.

A Peregrine Falcon and Harris Hawk from the center swooped through the moss-draped trees. One of the birds cruised close to show correspondent Sara Haines as it returned to a handler on the stage.

“It takes your breath away,” Haines said of the encounter.

Friday’s broadcast at 10 a.m. will include Hoda and Kathie Lee competing in shrimp peeling and trivia contests, music from The Citadel band and Spoleto Festival U.S.A. performers Abner and Amanda Ramirez.

Before the shows, Hoda and Kathie Lee said they loved Charleston’s food, scenery, architecture and people.

“Nobody warned us we would gain five pounds,” Gifford said.

They dined at the Peninsula Grill and visited Drayton Hall.

“This is one of those places that is contagious,” Kobte said.

Irma and Norm Resnic of Cape Cod, Mass., were in the audience.

“We have just loved the city,” Norm said.

College junior Joan Anderson was among 20 members of her sorority waiting in a long line to get into the show. “Hoda is a Tri Delt. We’re just supporting her,” she said.

The show was on a stage where senior Molly Laufman will soon receive her diploma. “This is like the last cool thing to do before we graduate,” she said.

Senior Nancy Blaney held up a sign advertising the fact that she was looking for a job. “This is something that’s really cool. I’m going to be on that stage in 12 days,” she said.

Senior Andrea Navarro said she scheduled her classes around the show, which she watches with her boyfriend.

Adrienne Held took in the excitement while holding her infant son Ashton. “We’ve been watching them every morning since he was born,” she said.

A few raindrops fell toward the end of the live show but nothing to cause the crowd to flee. The hosts couldn’t stick around because they had a flight to catch, Haines said.

“Charleston is one of the greatest places on Earth,” Gifford said.

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