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UNC, Chapel Hill honor Anoop

Posted May 4, 2009

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— "American Idol" finalist Anoop Desai was enjoying his trip back to Chapel Hill this week, even if it was a bit “surreal.”

anoop Anoop gets hometown celebrations

During a visit to Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen in Chapel Hill, the 22-year-old former University of Carolina at Chapel Hill graduate student said workers knew him by name.

Desai relayed the story to friends and family during a ceremony at the Carolina Club on the UNC campus Monday.

The General Alumni Association hosted the event, which drew about 100 people.

“I am going to try and go from here and try not to disappoint ya’ll,” Desai said.

Members of the UNC Clef Hangers spoke about the Desai they know.

“Anoop is a person that strives for perfection,” Clef Hanger Hogan Medlin said.

Long-time friend and fellow Clef Hanger Pablo Vega gave a tribute that began with Desai’s birth at Rex Hospital in 1986.

“At 7 pounds he was probably already planning to take over the world,” Vega said.

During Desai’s run on the show, his favorite team – the UNC men’s Tar Heels – captured the NCAA national championship. Desai admitted during the ceremony – complete with a video tribute to the Tar Heels – that he watched his team win the championship.

"I faked being sick," Desai said. His "fake" stomach flu allowed him to miss some "American Idol" duties just long enough to watch the game.

Carson was inspiration

Desai has credited his decision to audition for the reality show to the death of his friend Eve Carson, who was murdered March 5, 2008.

On the anniversary of Carson’s death, Desai appeared on the “American Idol” wild-card episode and gave a shout out to the school and mentioned Carson.

“Anoop, Eve is shining down on you and she is very proud of your accomplishments,” Medlin said.

Key to the city

Also Monday night, Mayor Kevin Foy and the Town Council presented Desai with the key to the Chapel Hill.

May 4th was also proclaimed to be Anoop Day in Chapel Hill.

Following the proclamation ceremony at Town Hall, Desai stayed to sign autographs and take photographs with fans.

Desai also signed autographs for fans at the Franklin Hotel on Sunday.

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