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Monday, June 15, 2009

‘Idol’ devotion brings hopefuls to Foxboro

By Lauren Beckham Falcone

Say what you will about “American Idol” - it’s unfair, it’s cruel, its ratings are dipping.

But say this, too: It brings out the devotion in people.

There’s no other way to explain the swath of sopping-wet moral support systems standing outside Gillette Stadium in Foxboro yesterday who held umbrellas and hands with the thousands of rain-soaked idealists vying for the most coveted prize in pop culture.

The Fox mega-hit show kicked off its ninth season at the home of the Patriots [team stats], and while host Ryan Seacrest braved the downpour to welcome the throngs, the real star of yesterday’s show was dedication - to family, friends and giving stardom a shot.

Who knew a talent competition could be a testament to the human spirit?

Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, boyfriends, girlfriends and best friends stood together for hours. And though the forecast was rain, the attitude was the complete opposite.

“It’s an opportunity,” said a smiling but soaked Katie Stevens, 16, of Middlebury, Conn. “You have to take it. No matter what happens, it was worth it.”

Her mother, Clara, skipped a Dunkin’ Donuts run to ensure a spot in line by 5 a.m.

“I could have used it,” she said. “But we’re here!”

Of course, you have to wonder about some people - the girl wearing a belt as a headband; the guy sashaying his way down the line asking people to marry him; the mother of four who thought it was perfectly OK to make her 6-year-old stand in line since 3 a.m. “She tired and bored,” the mother said. “But I brought snacks.”

Yet, for the most part, it was an optimistic event - the crowd sang and cheered. Friends went for coffee runs or held contestants’ places in line while they ran to their cars for a change of clothes.

“You have to support people,” said Sheena Seymour, 18, of Worcester, who cheered on pal Kaiti Figueroa, 20, of Somerville. “It’s her dream. I mean, I can’t feel my feet because they’re cold and wet, but I’m here.”

And so were the singers, who might not have the chops to make it past the first round. But what led them to that long line at One Patriot Place is as compelling as any good vocal performance.

“I had Hodgkin’s lymphoma when I was 13 to 15. Simon’s not as scary as cancer,” said Gina Naomi Baez, 21, of Long Island, N.Y.

“I was always afraid, but I was in a talent show this year and people said I was good,” said Alison Sullivan, 21, Tyngsboro.

“My friend Dave Wilkinson always encouraged me,” said Sarah Gay, 21, of Danvers. “He and I made a pact to do this together, but he shipped out to Iraq today. So I’m here and this is for him. And me.”

“I’m a junior in college and if I don’t do it now, I never will and I’ll always regret it,‘ said a waterlogged Megan Podsiedlik, 21, of Tully, N.Y. “That’s the great thing about ‘Idol.’ Everyone gets a shot. That’s why we’re all here.”

Source: Boston Herald.

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