It was Joshua Ledet MANIA here in Southwest Louisiana all weekend long (a.k.a. Hurricane Josh!). If you are a follower of my twitter (kren2700), then I’m sure you could tell!! :0)
My Josh Mania began on Thursday. Unaware if Josh would make the Top 3, all of SWLA was abuzz with potential plans for his homecoming. If you follow Idol, I’m sure you understand the excitement of a hometown contestant!
A co-worker of mine sent a text to my phone around 6 p.m. on Thursday night saying that she heard plans for Josh’s Homecoming Concert – tickets were being handed out right after the Idol results show in both Westlake and Lake Charles. Lucky for me, I just so happened to be in a neighboring town hanging out with friends and just so happened to pass through Westlake on my way home. *grin* I arrived in Westlake around 7:50 p.m. (at this point, we still didn’t know if Josh would make it). I assumed that I would have to park down the road and wait in an incredibly long line, but to my surprise, there were only about 300 people in line and I was able to find a spot very close to the Rec Center. When word spread that Josh made it in the Top 3, cheers broke out among the crowd! Everyone was super excited for him! As soon as Idol was over, people started to POUR into Westlake. By the time I left (I got tickets…YAY!), I think there were about 2,500 people in line. IT WAS INSANE.
This was the line that formed behind me – there were at least 300 people in front of me. This line weaved in and out of the parking lot many times over!
Josh’s brother walked through the crowd, shook people’s hands and thanked them for supporting Josh. It was really neat to have that small town, everyone come together, warm and fuzzy feeling!
In less than an hour, all 7,500 tickets were gone. We don’t play around, people. This is serious business!
(Funny story – just to show you how small my town really is….the lady in line in front of me wanted a picture with Josh’s brother. I offered to take the picture with her phone. The next day at work, I talked about the ticket line and a co-worker held up a picture on her phone and said, “Look! My friend got to meet Josh’s brother!” I about died laughing – my response to her… “SHUT UP! I took that picture!” Hah! See? What did I tell you? Small town!!)
Friday, Josh arrived in Lake Charles to many excited fans at our military base airport (the same airport that President George Bush flew in to when he came to survey Hurricane Rita damage)….fancy!
A press conference was held for him which can be found here: (courtesy of the American Press)
Joshua made a lot of appearances over the weekend (including a surprise appearance at the Sherriff’s Crawfish Boil and singing at his home church for their Saturday service).
Friday night, Kenzie and I decided to make t-shirts and posters for Saturday’s Parade/Concert. We stayed up super late but it was totally worth it!
Cute, huh? :0)
The forecast for Saturday morning included a 70% chance of rain. By parade time, the skies lightened up and the sun decided to peek out of the clouds! Perfect parade weather! :0)
Businesses all over Westlake showed their excitement for their Hometown boy!
(I love driving through the main street of Westlake because I love to read all of the Team Josh signage!) :0)
Are we cute or what?! Our shirts turned out perfect! Bright and bold – mission #1 accomplished!
Kayla’s mud run was rained out so they drove into town early. It took a little convincing, but my brother finally turned around to join us at the parade!
You see that limo? It sure made quite a spectacle all weekend in Lake Charles. When you saw the limo, you usually saw a 4 car cop escort and many people stopped to take pictures of it (me included). I’ll admit, it WAS really exciting to see it pass!
Uh…speaking of exciting…yeah, we weren’t feeling that emotion at all. Nope.
As of 2009, the population of Westlake, LA was just a little under 5,000 people. Wanna take a guess at how many people were estimated along the main street of Westlake for Josh’s Homecoming Parade? I’ll tell you……..more than double the population of the city! It was estimated that around 10,000 people lined the streets of Westlake to cheer on SWLA’s hometown celebrity!
My brother tried to act like he wasn’t excited about the parade…but deep down, I knew he was!
Westlake High School’s Marching Band led off as the first part of the parade.
To our surprise, there were about 10-12 Mardi Gras floats in the parade! BEADS galore!! What a fun way to show the rest of the country true Louisiana culture!
Behind a few Mardi Gras floats was the American Idol Limo.
Josh’s parents waved to the crowd through the windows of the limo.
I LOVED being right there as Josh’s car turned onto Sampson street. If only you could have seen the look on Josh’s face. I cannot even imagine the emotion that he felt. As his convertible turned onto the street and he got a glimpse of the crowds all there cheering for him, he shook his head and put his head in his hands. Two months ago, Josh left Westlake, Louisiana as an average 19 year old – and he returned as a celebrity. He was asked in a news cast how it felt and he responded, “I’m NOT a celebrity!” Everyone around him yelled “YES YOU ARE!”
I am using this picture from a local photographer just so you can see what I mean….
I saw him do this several times along the parade route. You can find more from Puckett’s Photography here.
Josh’s convertible was followed by…of course….more Mardi Gras floats! This was a super fun parade and I’m so glad I was able to be a part!
If you’d like to see video footage of the parade, you can check it out on this You Tube video that I found. If you watch the video, you’ll see a lady on the back of a white convertible (right past the Westlake band), she took video footage of us cheering and acting like fools. I’m not sure if she was with a news company or if she was an official Idol videographer so we’ll see what Wednesday night’s video footage holds! Goal #2 was to get on Idol (which we knew was practically impossible), but once we got out there and started having fun, that goal no longer mattered! I was (and still am) so excited and proud of Josh!
Saturday afternoon, we made our way to the Burton Coliseum for the Homecoming Concert. According to a local news station, this was the first ever Idol Homecoming Concert to be held indoors! With the forecast of rain all day, they didn’t want to take that chance, so indoors it was! Pretty neat!
We also passed a LOT of cars in town that looked like this one! :0)
The doors opened at 4 p.m. and we arrived around 3:30. The line was MASSIVE. Tickets were not assigned seats so people lined up early!
I loved this sign!
We found seats and listened to a little Zydeco music before Josh arrived!
Idol crew! :0)
We are cool like that!
Josh was WAY late arriving to the Burton. We listened to a LOT of Zydeco music and I’m not lying – If I don’t hear another Zydeco song again in my life, I will be just fine.
Finally, Josh arrived. We noticed a commotion in the back of the Coliseum but couldn’t figure out what was going on!
A Mardi Gras float emerged with Josh and his family on board!
The Idol producers had the lights in the Coliseum turned on so Josh could see just how many people came out to support him!
Again, this photo is courtesy of Puckett’s Photography of Lake Charles, Louisiana. This photo shows only half of the packed out Burton Coliseum.
Before singing, Josh spoke to the audience and gave his appreciation to everyone who has shown their support. The acoustics in the Burton Coliseum are horrible so I’m sorry if you can’t understand Josh well. I can tell you that he is super humbled by all of this and kept saying “This is CRAZY!”
He turned around and spoke to the audience behind the stage as well.
Singing his signature song…“When A Man Loves A Woman”.
Here he is with Jay. Word on the street all weekend was that JLo was in SWLA. Rumors flew all over the place about her whereabouts which was rather funny to hear! I found out later via twitter that she was also rumored in Phillip Phillip’s hometown as well. Jay Dardenne said “You don’t have JLo but you have JayD”! Hah! Nice one, Jay!
Last but not least, I leave you with Joshua singing “I Believe” (Fantasia). When they say that Joshua is the biggest thing to hit SWLA since Hurricane Rita (2005), they are right. I’ve NEVER seen the Burton THAT packed before and never have I EVER seen our community come together so peacefully to support something so huge! It was an amazing weekend a huge community morale boost – kind of like Christmas in July…..errrr…..May!
I woke up on Sunday with a sore throat that stayed with me all day long. I can’t remember the last time I screamed that much! What an incredible weekend!!
Thank you Josh for making such a huge impact on our area and for being a positive influence! You are awesome! Now bring home that title to SWLA!
To vote for Josh (and possible catch a glimpse of me on American Idol…kidding!!!!) please tune in on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. Central time on Fox!
#TeamJosh #LedetInLC #AmericanIdol