Alex Preston gets 'Idol' praise during Granite State homecoming
MONT VERNON - Team Alex was out in full force on Saturday, finally getting the chance to see Mont Vernon's newly famous singer and songwriter in person and live on stage.
It was a loud homecoming for Alex Preston, New Hampshire's quiet "American Idol" contestant, who has secured a spot in the top three of Season 13.
Fans waited for several hours to get a glimpse of Preston, 21, who arrived in style with a large limousine and "American Idol" camera crew in tow.
South Main Street in Mont Vernon was closed to traffic, as hundreds of people from all over New England crowded the area outside Town Hall to hear Preston sing.
"It means so much that I can actually be here in person to thank you guys for all of the support you have been giving me," Preston told the crowd.
Gov. Maggie Hassan was there to present Preston with a proclamation claiming Saturday as Alex Preston Day in New Hampshire.
"We are all so incredibly proud of you," she told Preston, a 2011 graduate of Souhegan High School and a student at the University of New Hampshire. "You are by far the most popular thing to be going on in New Hampshire."
Preston was the only contestant to submit an online audition and be accepted for Fox's hit music competition.
While visiting with fans at Mont Vernon Town Hall, Preston took the opportunity to sing his original song, "Fairytales," while also singing his version of Ed Sheeran's "A-Team."
Prior to visiting his old stomping ground at Souhegan High School, where he took a walk down memory lane with one of his former music advisers and also sang for a large crowd that packed the football stadium, Preston took a minute to speak with the New Hampshire Sunday News about his rapid rise to stardom.
"I never thought I would make it this far. Now that it is the top three ... whatever happens after this is just all good," said Preston.
Preston said he was excited to return to New Hampshire.
"This is absolutely insane that the whole town came out to support me. It is absolutely crazy," said Preston, who was joined by his parents and siblings.
Despite the chaos and whirlwind surrounding Saturday's homecoming festivities, Preston said he is already preparing for Wednesday's "American Idol" show, when he will sing three songs - one selected by the celebrity judges, one selected by adviser Randy Jackson and one chosen by Hassan.
While on a private plane ride back to New Hampshire, Preston said, he listened to all of the songs that he has been asked to perform this week.
"It is a lot of work, but it is worth it," said Preston, who has already secured a spot on the "American Idol" summer tour.
As for his college career, Preston says he is still a student at the University of New Hampshire, but has been deferring classes since his "Idol" journey began. He acknowledges that he may take some time off after the tour.
Parade at UNH
Durham also celebrated Preston's homecoming on Saturday with a large parade and free concert at the Whittemore Center. People from all over New Hampshire and beyond traveled to hear Preston sing.
"We love his hair, we love his voice, we love his eyes. We love everything about him," said fan Sarah Licqurish of Dunstable, Mass.
Preston's sister, Samantha Philbrick, described her brother's journey as unbelievable.
"What can I say, this is beautiful," the younger Philbrick said while watching a large crowd cheer on her brother.
UNH police Chief Paul Dean said the weather couldn't have been better for a parade, and even though thousands of people lined the route, there were no problems.
Sandy and Andy Brackett traveled from Moultonborough to see Preston.
"He's put New Hampshire on the map," Sandy Brackett said
Student Jillian Belliveau, 20, of Manchester, said the event was another great boon for the college.
"We've had so much talent come from UNH," Belliveau said.
Correspondent John Quinn contributed to this story.