Garner's 'Idol' glad to be home
Posted May 13, 2011 1:47 p.m. EDT
Updated May 14, 2011 8:59 a.m. EDT
Garner, N.C. — "American Idol" finalist Scotty McCreery kept a promise he made this week: He kissed the ground first thing when his charter plane landed at the Raleigh airport late Friday.
"It feels so good. It feels too good," the Garner teen said. "I missed y'all. I missed fried chicken, sweet tea. Southern accents – I'm glad to hear Southern accents again."
McCreery took pictures with and gave autographs to fans who greeted him at the airport and promised them a great show at a parade and concert in his honor Saturday.
"It's just going to be so great. These are the people I grew up with, and to finally be back and to thank them all, it's just going to be – words can't describe it all," he said.
McCreery will begin the day with interviews at local radio stations before visiting the AT&T Store at 7055 White Oak Road and his school, Garner Magnet High School, 2101 Spring Drive.
McCreery will also visit his employer, Lowes Foods, 1845 Aversboro Road, where he is expected to bag groceries.
The festivities at Lake Benson Park, 921 Buffaloe Road, are expected to start at 2 p.m., with McCreery appearing in a short parade down Buffaloe Road that will end at the concert stage.
The parade and concert will be held rain or shine, Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams said.
"It's the biggest thing that’s ever happened in Garner," Williams said.
The mayor advised fans to arrive at the park no later than noon on Saturday. Pets, tents and coolers will not be allowed.
Shuttles will transport fans to and from Lake Benson Park between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
McCreery is scheduled to perform at 3 p.m.
Williams said the town is expecting up to 30,000 people to attend the concert.
"Scotty has provoked those people to check in to his hometown, his school, to see what it’s like," Williams said. "The phone has been ringing all day every day, and it’s all about Scotty."
Those visitors might also help stimulate the economy.
"Hopefully, they will come to Garner, many for the first time, and see something that they like and want to come back to do business, buy a house or eat a meal," Williams said.
Williams said the celebration is costing the town about $61,000, and they have recovered all but $17,000 of that through corporate sponsors.
Debbie Dunn, who first met McCreery in 2008 when he auditioned for the Country Music Showcase she ran at a local college, is helping the town plan the festivities.
"It couldn't happen to someone better," Dunn said. "He is Idol."
McCreery, 17, who is joined in the finals by Lauren Alaina and Haley Reinhart, advanced on Thursday after performing "Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)" by Alan Jackson and "Young Blood" by The Coasters Wednesday night. Each contestant in the top three will be visiting their hometowns along with "Idol" camera crews.
McCreery's "Idol" journey began last year when he auditioned in Milwaukee, singing Josh Turner's "Your Man" and Travis Tritt's "Put Some Drive in Your Country."
Since then, McCreery has earned praise from the judges each week and has never been among the bottom two vote-getters on the show.
'Idols' head to Raleigh on tour
"American Idol" fans lined up as early as 4 a.m. outside the RBC Center on Friday to buy tickets to the show's tour, which will feature McCreery.
The tour hits Raleigh on July 27.