Celebrating an American Idol

It seems you can still hear the echoes of people chanting 'Phillip Phillips' in Southwest Georgia. Maybe it's because you have to say his name twice or maybe it was because thousands turned out to welcome Leesburg's very own American Idol finalist back for his Hometown Celebration.

Phillip Phillips touched town on Georgia clay Friday night to a crowd of cheering fans. As one of the three finalists remaining on American Idol, he's become a nationwide name but nothing could have prepared him for the love his hometown has for the former pawn shop worker.

"It's insane. I don't really have any thoughts right now," said Phillip Phillips, American Idol finalist. "It's so overwhelming and amazing and I can't even explain it."

Phillip couldn't even leave the airport without his caravan of crowd control. They escorted the singing sensation all around town and kicked off Saturday's festivities at the local radio station.

Then it was off to Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital for a private concert to encourage the patients. Cheers could be heard down the hall as Phillip walked into the room. And of course Phillip had to fit in a stop for his favorite chicken and cheese nachos at El Maya II.

American idol crews were constantly by his side filming for Wednesday's Idol show. It wasn't until going to the pawn shop that he got to see his dad and had to wait until lunch to see the rest of his family.

Then it was parade time. About an hour off schedule, the sun had finally come out and the crowds were cheering for their favorite Idol.

"It's so good to see some familiar places and faces and the fresh air, the pine like I said last night and it's so amazing it's starting to be a beautiful day too and it's awesome," said Phillips.

Phillip was welcome back to sing by the thousands filling the stands and pouring onto the fields. Last time he sang at LCHS was his high school graduation.

But it wasn't just locals coming out to show their support. The Lefort family drove nine hours and nearly 500 miles all the way from Louisiana which happens to be American Idol finalist Joshua's Ledet's home state.

Exact numbers haven't been calculated but the Lee County Chamber and Leesburg Police estimate between 12,000 and 20,000 people came out for the celebration. That's about five times the population of Leesburg.

"It's so awesome and I just feel so blessed," said Phillips.