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It’s that time again: American Idol‘s hometown visits, where finalists get the red carpet rolled out in the places they grew up. Each season, the camera captures all the action: parades, pep rallies in finalists’ high-school football stadiums — and tears. Lots of tears.
As the path to the May 23 finale winds down, the remaining three — Jessica Sanchez, Phillip Phillips and Joshua Ledet — have headed home for their respective visits, to be shown Wednesday on the Fox competition.
PHOTOS: ‘American Idol’ Hometown Visits
Sanchez, the 16-year-old wunderkind with the powerhouse voice, ventured back to Chula Vista, California, over the weekend. With her younger brothers in tow, she rode in a car past thousands of fans toward her destination: Eastlake High School, where she crooned her Idol hits including Whitney Houston‘s “I Will Always Love You” on Saturday. She was given a key to the city, with the mayor announcing May 12 as “Jessica Sanchez Day.”
“I’m so happy to represent Chula Vista,” she said. “It was the people. I missed the people so much. I love you guys. Thank you for all the support.”
Later, at the USS Midway Museum, she performed Luther Vandross‘ “Dance With My Father” in tearful tribute to her dad, a U.S. Navy officer, whom she invited on stage, People.com reported. He is scheduled for a deployment in Singapore.
VIDEO: ‘Idol Hangover’ Episode 11
At the same time, Sanchez’s competitors, Joshua Ledet and Phillip Phillips, were also taping footage of their hometown festivities.
Ledet, 20, had a pep rally and parade in his honor in Westlake, Lousiana, nearly bursting into tears as his plane touched down in Lake Charles on Friday.
“It is the most amazing thing. You never know the support you have until you come back and see everybody,” said the soul singer and judge favorite, according to the Southwest Daily News, “You guys showing love and support helps keep me going (in the competition).”
VIDEO: ‘Idol’ Top 4 Bring the Love, Ryan Seacrest Elicits Gasps, What You Didn’t See on TV
On Saturday, throngs of fans cheered on Ledet during a parade and concert at the Burton Coliseum, where he arrived on a Mardi Gras float to reprise “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.”
As for Phillips, he was greeted with a hero’s welcome in Leesburg, Georgia, returning to Lee County High School for a concert celebration. Per Idol tradition, he got a parade — he sat in a car with his parents — and a key to the city.
“I don’t even know what to say but thank you,” the 21-year-old rocker told the crowd, via WALB News. “I appreciate all of the support ya’ll have done.”
Watch Ledet’s reprisal of “Man’s World” below.
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