Daily Herald
Was there any doubt? Mt. Prospect wild over hometown 'Idol' DeWyze
By Sheila Ahern and Ashok Selvam | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 5/26/2010 9:02 PM | Updated: 5/27/2010 2:26 PM
 

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Mount Prospect - until now best known in pop culture for a mention in the 1980 "Blues Brothers" movie - has a new mascot.

He used to sell paint, has a bashful smile and boy, can he sing.

On Wednesday, Lee DeWyze was crowned the newest "American Idol" in front of millions of viewers. The crowd inside the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles rose to their feet and confetti fell from the rafters around him as he sang the single that will be released to all of America, his cover of U2's "Beautiful Day."

But when a breathless DeWyze said to the camera, "Thank you guys so much for everything," it seemed aimed right at his hometown.

"We believe!" the joyful thousands in the Mount Prospect Village Green chanted at the Jumbotron television screen.

In a close vote, DeWyze edged out the powerfully voiced Crystal Bowersox for the "Idol" crown. At the Village Green, it seemed everyone quit breathing until he did.

When host Ryan Seacrest finally announced DeWyze's name, teenagers jumped up and down screaming while little kids plugged their ears.

Many of DeWyze's most dedicated fans were among the roughly 3,000 gathered in downtown Mount Prospect, their texting fingers still sore from marathon voting sessions the night before.

Take Katye Mavrogianis, 16, Alyssa Mavrogianis, 18, Katie Baldwin, 17, and Jessica Smith, 13. All live in Mount Prospect and each one voted between 300 and 500 times on Tuesday night.

"I used my house phone and my cell phone and was up until midnight," said Katye Mavrogianis, as her friends and sister nodded. "This was awesome. This was totally worth it."

Baldwin said she wasn't the least bit surprised with DeWyze's win.

"People can just relate to him," said Baldwin about the former paint store clerk who dropped out of high school. "Look at this crowd. People just like him."

Despite the threat of rain, many arrived hours before the show to grab an ice cream cone and carve out a good spot in front of the Jumbotron. Neon "Vote for Lee" T-shirts and balloons were everywhere.

The celebration in Mount Prospect officially started at 5 p.m., although people were claiming their spots in the early morning. Twice during the "Idol" broadcast, the crowd was seen by the millions watching.

"Everybody bonded together. That's what we do here," said Errol Oztekin, owner of Blues Bar, which is a couple blocks from village green.

Before the show aired, Mike Glasgow of Mount Prospect declared DeWyze's performances as the "best thing ever for Mount Prospect."

"There are no winners or losers today," he said. "But I hope he does win."

Brian Friedopfer, one of DeWyze's good friends was watching the finals at Potato Creek Johnny's in Glenview, where the aspiring singer sang karaoke for the past two years.

"I don't know what I'm feeling. I'm speechless. I love him so much. I don't know what I feel," Friedopfer said.

"Right before they announced his name, I felt it in my heart, but to hear them say he's the next American Idol ... I don't even know what to say. It's incredible."

Some of DeWyze's fans felt the groundswell of support DeWyze received helped propel him to the title.

"The amount of local support he had ... it blew me away," said Tanja Biebel.

Mount Prospect police said the crowd downtown was family-friendly and there were no major problems, according to Mount Prospect spokeswoman Maura El Metennani.

"I just talked to the (Fox) producers and they loved it," she said. "It was a great night."

Next up, maybe Mount Prospect will rename a street after DeWyze or put his name under those "Welcome to Mount Prospect" signs.

Maybe, El Metennani said.

"We haven't gotten to that point yet," she said.

Dominic Cannon, DeWyze's former Prospect High School teacher, flew to Los Angeles with his 16-year-old daughter to see DeWyze sing on Tuesday. He sat a few rows from DeWyze's parents, Kathy and Lee Sr.

"His dad thought he would win the whole time," said Cannon. "His mom was nervous before the show, during the show and after the show. Of course she was. She's his mom."

• Daily Herald Staff Writer Jana Ronayne contributed to this report.