Chicago suburbs honor their own 'American Idol'

American Idol finalist Lee Dewyze, center, rides with his parents Kathy, left and Lee, in a hometown parade in his honor Friday, May 14, 2010 in Mount Prospect, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

May 14, 2010 7:22:05 PM PDT
A parade with cheerleaders and a high school marching band helped welcome "American Idol" finalist Lee Dewyze back to his suburban Chicago hometown Friday. He later sang to tens of thousands of people at a nearby concert.

At least 30,000 tickets were given away for the concert at Arlington Park Racetrack. Fans throughout the crowd were clad in neon yellow "Vote 4 Lee" T-shirts.

Dewyze, at times emotional, appeared overwhelmed by the outpouring at the show. The 24-year-old paint store clerk thanked fans for supporting his appearance on the Fox talent competition.

"This is the best day of my life," he told the crowd, who heard him perform renditions of "Hey Jude," "The Boxer" and the Dave Matthews Band song "Crash."

On stage, Dewyze received the key to the city of Mount Prospect, his hometown.

Mount Prospect Mayor Irvana Wilks said earlier that when she first saw him perform on "American Idol," she thought, "Oh my gosh, we need to get ready."

The town was ready Friday with a parade that drew hundreds of cheering fans. Dewyze waved to the crowds from the back of a black convertible.

"That raspy voice just sends chills up your spine," said Margie Torphy, 52, a Mount Prospect resident along the route who said she used to buy paint from him.

Twelve-year-old Olivia Karnes of Mount Prospect showed up at the parade with her family.

"He has an amazing voice. It's really unique," Olivia said. "And he's cute."

Earlier Friday, Dewyze threw out the first pitch at Wrigley Field in Chicago before the Cubs played the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Dewyze is one of three contestants remaining on the Fox competition. The other two finalists - Crystal Bowersox of Toledo, Ohio, and Casey James of Cool, Texas - were also touring their hometowns.

Footage from the visits is scheduled to air on next week's show.