Less than five months ago, Crystal Bowersox left northwest Ohio as a relatively unknown performer. Now the 24-year-old single mom is coming home as an 'American Idol' star with tribute parades and free performances scheduled to honor her visit.
Bowersox is expected to make her triumphant return as one of three remaining American Idol hopefuls - that is, assuming she receives enough votes tonight to keep her around another week.
The city of Toledo will kick off the festivities at 11:30 a.m. Friday in downtown in front of Owens Corning, with a parade to run down Summit Street to Madison Avenue and Promenade Park.
Mayor Mike Bell will lead the event on his Harley-Davidson and Bowersox will ride in a car at
the end of the parade. It's possible high school bands will participate as well, Jennifer Sorgenfrei, spokesman for the mayor's office, said. The entire parade run is expected to last about 20 minutes.
"[American Idol] is just looking to shoot three minutes of video" footage of the parade for the show, Ms. Sorgenfrei said.
At 12:30 p.m., Bowersox will perform a concert at Levis Square, at the intersection of Summit Street and Madison Avenue, across from Promenade Park.
The 45-minute set most likely will include a mixture of covers and originals, Ms. Sorgenfrei said.
"She's just going to plug into an amp and go," she said.
Friday's forecast calls for a 30 percent chance of showers, and the city is working on finding an alternate site in the event of serious storms.
"This is a one-shot deal," Ms. Sorgenfrei said.
The city is working to fund the event through a mixture of sponsorship and network donations, she said.
"We don't have the budget," Ms. Sorgenfrei said. "So far, so good."
Even if Bowersox is eliminated from the American Idol competition tomorrow and doesn't make the top three, Ms. Sorgenfrei said a parade still could be held in her honor.
"We could still have her here. This is sort of her homecoming," Ms. Sorgenfrei said.
Bowersox is from Elliston, Ohio, in southeast Ottawa County, which is preparing to welcome its hometown girl with a small parade and a concert performance between 4 to 6 p.m. Friday at the Ottawa County Fairgrounds.
That parade will begin across the street from the fairgrounds and continue past the midway to the grandstand area. Bowersox will perform along with opening act the Undeserving, a Fremont rock band whose anthemic "Something To Hope For" was chosen to promote this season of American Idol.
Following her performance at the fairgrounds, the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department will escort Bowersox to Fifth Third Field, where she will perform the National Anthem prior to the Mud Hens game.
Seats for Friday's game are limited but still available, said Scott Jeffer, assistant general manager and director of marketing for the Toledo Mud Hens, and he encourages anyone with tickets to come early so they don't miss her performance.
"The sales have been brisk ever since it had been confirmed Friday night that Crystal was going to be performing the anthem," he said.
"There's a huge buzz around it; it appears that there's going to be a lot of people who have never been to a Mud Hens game before. We're thrilled on a number of fronts."
For more information, call 419-725-4367 or visit mudhens.com.
Also beginning at 10 a.m. Friday, tickets go on sale for the "American Idol Live!" Tour Sept. 2 performance at Huntington Center.
The concert will feature the American Idol Season 9 Top 10 contestants: Didi Benami, Lee DeWyze, Andrew Garcia, Casey James, Aaron Kelly, Michael Lynche, Siobhan Magnus, Katie Stevens, Tim Urban, and Bowersox.
Tickets are priced at $40.50, $50.50, and $70.50 and will be available at livenation.com, all Ticketmaster locations, the Huntington Center ticket office, and charge-by-phone by calling 800) 745-3000.
Contact Kirk Baird at