Winning "American Idol" is the goal, but for the top three finalists of every season, going home is always the sweetest trip. The remaining trio — Lee DeWyze, Crystal Bowersox and Casey James — all took trips back to their respective hometowns on Friday and were greeted with parades, huge crowds and the first sight of their adoring hometown crowds since the finals began.
People magazine tagged along with all three and reported that Bowersox visited all her old haunts when she returned to the Toledo, Ohio, area, spending time with bassist Frankie May and dropping in at one of the bars she played in as a young teenager, Papa's Tavern. After flying into a private airstrip on Thursday night, the 24-year-old singer popped in to the local Fox TV station, hit a few radio stations and then waved to the crowd during a parade in downtown Toledo, where she got a glass key to the city from Mayor Michael Bell.
She celebrated by performing her original ode to the city, "Holy Toledo," which has become a minor local radio hit, to a crowd of 5,000. Then she moved to the cozy confines of Papa's, where she performed a mix of covers and originals for a crowd made up mostly of regulars. There was a lunch at her dad's house, some downtime with son Tony and then a show for 4,000 at the Ottawa County Fairgrounds, where she urged fans to vote. The day ended with the tossing of the first pitch and the singing of the national anthem at Fifth Third Field, the home of the minor league baseball team the Toledo Mud Hens.
Lee DeWyze, 24, couldn't keep his emotions in check during his tearful trip back to Chicago, where he dropped in on teachers at his old high school, hung out with his family and played a nine-song acoustic show for more than 41,000 at the Arlington Park Racetrack, according to People. His day began with the reading of the local weather on Fox Chicago News, some radio-station drop-ins, a first pitch at a Chicago Cubs game, a parade and a check-in with his old boss at Mt. Prospect Paint.
It was a similarly hectic routine for Casey James, 27, who made 10 stops during his visit to Texas, the magazine reported. After visiting his alma mater, Milsap High School, which set out a red carpet surrounded by screaming fans, James spent some quality time with his mother, brother and two dogs, Daisy and Buster. He also paid an emotional visit to Texas Health Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital, where doctors treated him six years ago after a serious motorcycle crash.
He played his guitar and sang a few songs at one of his old haunts, the packed Fort Worth club Keys Lounge. He also reunited with his family for a picnic at the home he built himself and popped in to the Fort Worth Stockyard, where he got a key to the city. James was the only finalist to have a two-day home visit, which also included a show on Saturday at the tiny community center in his hometown of Cool, Texas, and a bigger gig in front of 4,000 at day's end at his high school stadium.
The final three will sing two songs each on Tuesday night: one of their own choosing and one chosen by the producers. The next night's elimination will pave the way for the May 26 finale.
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