Four KHS grads get two minutes of fame – on NBC

If you want to get noticed in New York City, make a sign saying you rode a donkey from Kingman, Ariz., to see "The Today Show."

That's what four spring graduates of Kingman High School did during a trip June 21-27.

It got them a two-minute segment on "Today" with Al Roker on June 26 and exposure later that day on MTV's "Total Request Live with Carson Daly."

Sarah Acer, Mahria Miller, Sonia Paracha and Crimson Aguilar flew from Las Vegas to Newark, N.J., and stayed at the Staten Island, N.Y., home of Acer's uncle and aunt, Ray and Eileen Ferragano, who have three children.

Miller and Paracha discussed their trip Thursday at the Daily Miner office.

A busy work schedule prevented Acer from being present and Aguilar was visiting relatives in Utah.

Paracha said she and Aguilar knew of the trip and had ample time to pack for it, but Miller did not learn of it until almost the last minute.

"My mother bought me the plane ticket," Miller said.

"But I didn't know about the trip until four hours before driving to Las Vegas.

"It was a graduation gift."

Acer led her three friends on a tour that included visits to the World Trade Center site, Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Little Italy and Chinatown in Manhattan.

They attended two Broadway shows, "Rent," which featured Frenchie Davis of "American Idol" fame, and "Cabaret" with Tom Bosley and John Secada.

But the visit to the NBC studios was the highlight.

Miller said Acer was hopeful the quartet might get on television and dreamed up a story of the four of them arriving in the Big Apple by donkey.

Paracha prepared a poster on June 25 and the group joined a growing line about 4 a.m.

the next day outside Rockefeller Plaza.

They got some strange looks from other people who read their poster, Paracha said.

"We were going to say an alpaca but didn't think anybody there would know what an alpaca is, so we stayed with donkey," Miller said.

"Roker was walking through the line, shaking hands, and initially walked past us.

He then saw our sign, backed up and began talking with Sarah."

A transcript of their on-air bantering was supplied by NBC to the Daily Miner.

Roker asked whether the quartet really had ridden a donkey from Kingman – it was Kingman, Arizona, Acer said.

When Roker asked, "Where's the donkey, now," Acer said they'd left him at her aunt's house.

Roker asked where her aunt lived and Acer replied on Staten Island.

Roker asked once more whether she was serious and Acer said yes.

Paracha then let Roker know Acer really was kidding.

The short segment closed with Roker commenting what an economical donkey he was and wondering how many miles he got.

Miller said Acer also left a message with MTV staff saying the group was in town from Kingman.

"A call came in to my cell phone (from someone at MTV) and Sarah took it," Miller said.

"The caller said to show up at MTV wearing dark clothing at 11 a.m., as they had four tickets for us."

Aguilar was wearing light-colored clothing that day.

While not certain of the reason they were asked to wear dark colors, Miller surmised it was because of the lighting conditions at MTV.

"We got to watch top-10 pop videos and met 'Charlie's Angels,' " Paracha said.

Charlie's Angels' stars Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu and Cameron Diaz were at MTV for the premiere of their "Full Throttle" movie.

Paracha, Miller, Aguilar and Acer also attended a graduation party their first night in New York for Acer's cousin, Chrissy Ferragano, who had just finished high school, Miller said.

Paracha said getting on television "was cool."

"It was like a moment of fame," Miller said.

"How many (people) can say they've been on TV?"