The last time Crystal Bowersox appeared on stage near her hometown, she was singing to empty bar stools and playing for tips.
Those days are over. Thousands lined streets and packed into a square on Friday waiting to see the bluesy, dreadlocked singer as she made a hero's visit to her northwest Ohio roots. The 24-year-old musician and mother of a young son was to be the center of attention at two parades and planned to give mini-concerts in Toledo and nearby Oak Harbor, near her small hometown of Elliston.
The noon-hour parade in Toledo was led by Mayor Mike Bell, riding a motorcycle. Along the route, fans covering a broad range of ages held homemade signs including one that read, "Crystal Rocks."
Kelly Kreger brought her 11-year-old son to see his favorite singer, even though it was a school day. "He just begged me," Kreger explained.
Many in the crowd said what they like most about Bowersox is that she's down-to-earth.
"She seems just like us," Kreger said, adding that she could identify with Bowersox' story of a single mother of earthy, humble roots struggling to make it.
This season's "American Idol" winner will be crowned during the May 26 installment of the Fox singing competition. To take the title, Bowersox will need to beat 24-year-old paint sales clerk Lee DeWyze of Mount Prospect, Ill., and 27-year-old musician Casey James from Fort Worth, Texas.
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