Area fans celebrate hometown 'Idol' finalist

May 14, 2010 (SKOKIE, Ill.)

DeWyze entertained a big crowd during a concert Friday evening at Arlington Park race track.

The concert capped off a busy day for the Mt. Prospect native.

Excitement was in the air the air as thousands of people turned out for a parade in Mt. Prospect to show their support for their favorite son and possible American Idol.

A little over a year-and-a-half ago, the humble young man was a clerk in a paint store. Now, he is a fierce competitor on a popular television show.

Thousands staked out a spot to get a glimpse of the finalist.

"Without you guys, I would not be here - you are the best fans, period," said DeWyze. "I don't care what anyone says. You're the best."

He was so moved by the crowd that he spontaneously performed two songs for them.

DeWyze took time to meet and greet his fans, as well.

"It was really emotional to see him up there on the stage," fan Lindsey Funk said.

"It's very exciting that he is from Chicago," said another fan.

In the afternoon, the popular Idol contestant threw out the first pitch at Wrigley Field for the Cubs-Pirates game.

Over the last few weeks, he has sung for a television audience of millions. Chicago audiences were already familiar with his former hometown band, which had performed on the Chicago Huddle on ABC7 Chicago.

"We have seen him sing live hundreds of times," said former DeWyze band member Ryan McGuire.

Chicago-area fans were thrilled just to get a glimpse of the singer.

Earlier Friday, while he was performing, DeWyze received a text from Idol judge Simon Cowell telling him the next song on the show is "Hallelujah."

DeWyze was expected to perform three songs at Arlington Friday night. However, ABC7 was told he had decided to add more songs to the performance.

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