News4 legend Pat Collins retires. Here are some of his most memorable moments – NBC4 Washington

After 50 years on the air and 36 years with NBC4 Washington, legendary reporter Pat Collins is retiring.

Collins is known at the DMV and beyond for his distinctive, eye-catching storytelling style. Several of his reports have grown well beyond his typical News4 audience, and his stories have turned into memes since at least 2011.

DC perhaps knows Collins best from its annual Snow Stick Challenge, when viewers guess when the season’s first inch of snow will fall at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in exchange for the chance to win a benchmark with marks for all the biggest DC storms of the past.

Predict the first inch of snow at National Airport for a chance to win a Pat Collins Snow Pole.

But he’s made waves in the District and beyond in other ways.

His 2011 story about a high school student who put on a banana suit, ran across the football field at halftime, and then got suspended made quite an impression. That’s partly because Collins, in solidarity with then-14-year-old Bryan Thompson, wore a purple grape suit during the broadcast.

A Stafford County high school student has been suspended for wearing a banana suit at halftime and running across the football field.

The unforgettable fruit duo spread far beyond News4’s average audience and resurfaced in memes years after that.

Ten years later, in a sequel with “Banana Man,” Collins said, “There’s one story that just sticks around.”

He shared the origins of the legendary costume last March during a March 2021 interview with Doreen Gentzler about his book ‘Newsman’.

In a three-part series, News4’s Pat Collins talks to Doreen Gentzler about his memoir ‘Newsman’. In this segment, “Memorable Moments,” Collins talks about his signature style and remarkable ability to commit crime and tell stories. Collins also shares some of his best on-air moments from Elvis to the Grape – and that infamous snow stick.

“The real truth is I was ordered to go to Virginia, where this poor kid was being punished, suspended for wearing a banana suit… and I said, ‘This is wrong,'” Collins said. “‘How are we going to tell the story best?'”

“So I call back to a man on our [assignment] desk, Charlie Bragale, and I say, ‘Charlie, I need a pack of grapes.'”

Charlie then frantically called around and managed to find a costume shop along the way – and the rest is history.

“Sometimes I think television, which is a very visual and visceral medium, sometimes if you take it too far, sometimes if you really want to bring something home, you take it out of the box,” Collins explained. “You take it off the charts and drive it home that way.”

It’s another aspect of Collins’ signature reporting style. His long pauses and over-emphasized words caught the attention of comedian John Oliver, who created a segment for his HBO show “Last Week Tonight” featuring “Beat Poetry from NBC4 Washington’s Pat Collins.”

One segment opened with Collins’ story about a vandal trying to get revenge on an alleged imposter named Mike. Unfortunately for the owner of the car, the vandal had targeted the wrong car.

A vandal with a bone to pick up spray-painted “Mike is a cheater” on an SUV parked in Northeast DC News4’s Pat Collins reports.

“Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike,” Collins said sadly. “See what you’ve done?”

The story has been viewed 87,000 times counting on News4’s YouTube channel. It was even sung and posted on YouTube by the Gregory Brothers. “Play this in the club until Mike hears it and changes his ways,” the group said when they posted the video.

News4’s Pat Collins has gone viral again. Listen to the song The Gregory Brothers wrote, inspired by Collins’ story of mistaken identity.

“I think it all goes back to that old Washington Daily News,” Collins explained. “We had very short spaces to tell a long story, and it’s almost like poetry. It’s almost like that rhythm, that story that sings, that sinks into people’s heads, into their hearts and their souls, and gives them something to talk about the next day.”

“That’s me,” he said.

And when that poetry is accompanied by props, it sticks in people’s minds all the more.

For example, in 2013, when Rusty the Red Panda made his infamous and daring escape from the National Zoo, Collins talked about Rusty’s adventure. But first, he made sure viewers knew which panda he was talking about with the help of two stuffed animals.

The National Zoo’s red panda Rusty is safely back after disappearing from his exhibit and making an appearance in Adams Morgan. This is reported by Pat Collins of News4.

People in the district have known for years that they have something special in Collins. Even if he doesn’t go viral, his reports always show the same flair.

There was one time when a flight from Ghana had to turn around and head back to Dulles when a fight broke out – and Collins had some volunteers demonstrate with paper airplanes.

As of 2011: A fight broke out aboard a flight from Dulles to Ghana, forcing the plane to turn around and land before arriving. This is reported by Pat Collins of News4.

Or the time he celebrated the Washington Capitals’ trip to Las Vegas to win the Stanley Cup — and donned a full Elvis costume.

From 2018: The Washington Capitals went to Las Vegas to win the Stanley Cup. News4’s Pat Collins dressed in full Elvis suit to interview traveling fans.

Or, every holiday season, when a 2015 recording of Collins once again graces our screens with his dramatic reading of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

News4’s Pat Collins dramatically reads “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

No one does it quite like the grape, the Newsman, NBC4’s resident poet, Pat Collins.

We will miss you Pat!

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