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Preparations on for likely for DeWyze homecoming
By Kimberly Pohl | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 5/12/2010 12:01 AM | Updated: 5/12/2010 11:49 AM

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Mt. Prospect opens Lee DeWyze hotline

Mount Prospect has set up a hotline for fans looking for the latest news on Friday's "Lee DeWyze Hometown Celebration." Call (847) 870-6622 for a recorded message with details on the day's public events. Information is also posted on Mount Prospect's website, www.mountprospect.org.

DeWyze, a native son of Mount Prospect, will find out tonight if he has made the final three of this year's "American Idol" competition. If he does, a daylong celebration will happen Friday in Chicago, Mount Prospect and at the Arlington Park racetrack.

"American Idol" will broadcast from 8-9 p.m. tonight on Fox.

It's no small feat to finalize plans for a Lee DeWyze homecoming when no one can say how many fans will turn out to celebrate - or even if the celebration will occur.

But that's the challenge facing the village of Mount Prospect and Arlington Park, which hope to host the "American Idol" front-runner's parade and mini-concert on Friday.

America's decision whether to advance DeWyze to the final three will be announced by 9 tonight. Barring a major upset, the traffic on Arlington Park's website is expected to skyrocket soon after.

Free tickets to DeWyze's three-song concert in the winner's circle can be printed at arlingtonpark.com at the show's conclusion. People can also get free general admission racing tickets for entry into the track after 4 p.m. Friday or fans can buy reserved seating in the grandstand for the nine races taking place between 1 and 5 p.m. and then stay for the concert.

Bottom line, no one without a ticket will be allowed in.

Past "Idol" events across the U.S. have drawn between 5,000 and 20,000 people, and Arlington Park officials are confident the racecourse can accommodate more than 45,000 people.

"We don't think we'll see that number," track spokesman Dave Zenner said. "But we had close to 30,000 in attendance on Mother's Day and parking was still available."

Zenner, who said concert organizers aren't concerned about scalpers or having to cap the number of tickets, said the concert will be broadcast on Jumbotrons being brought in and the TV monitors indoors for fans who may not be able to get seating in the grandstand.

In Mount Prospect, officials are gearing up for the parade at 4:30 p.m. along Northwest Highway between Route 83 and Central Road.

Fans eager to stake out a prime spot along the six-block route aren't encouraged to set up the night before, Police Chief John Dahlberg said, but they won't be shooed away. However, tents and other semi-permanent objects won't be allowed.

He declined to disclose how many more police officers will be working Friday, saying only that staffing has been significantly increased, and will be bolstered by officers from several other departments.

Officers will distribute fliers from the Mount Prospect Chamber of Commerce highlighting places to eat, shop and stay. Portable toilets are also being placed along the route.

To get a sense of what to expect, Mount Prospect officials have held conference calls with various communities that previously played host to "Idol" homecomings and obtained their incident action plans, Dahlberg said.

"We've been watching the blogs and we know there are many people who may travel hundreds of miles for this," Dahlberg said. "These can be very ardent fans."

Both Mount Prospect and Arlington Park officials are encouraging fans to use Metra, since both the parade route and racetrack are at train stops.