Westlake native and ''American Idol'' contestant Josh Ledet gets ready for the start of the parade Saturday in Westlake. (Michelle Higginbotham / Special to the American Press)
A young fan holds up a sign at the parade Saturday for Westlake native and ''American Idol'' contestant Josh Ledet. (Michelle Higginbotham / Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Monday, May 14, 2012 1:41 PM
An estimated 7,000 to 8,000 people lined the streets of Westlake on Saturday to welcome home “American Idol” contestant Josh Ledet, Westlake Police Chief, Michael Dickerson said.
Ledet appeared to be soaking up the adoration as the call of “We love you, Josh,” was repeated all along the parade route.
Fans Amanda Crochet and her daughter, Alicia Borjas, were particularly excited as the young singer with the gospel voice passed by.
“He looked at me and said, ‘hey baby,’” Borjas said. “I started screaming.”
Crochet, who said she voted for Ledet 256 times in a two-minute period, said he “more” than met her expectations, “because he looked me in the eye.”
Elizabeth Stretcher described herself as Ledet’s “number one fan.”
“I love him,” she said. “My favorite song he sang was ‘When a Man Loves a Woman.’ I’ve been singing it all day.”
Stretcher said that she is so excited that her “heart may just fall out.”
As with any parade in Louisiana, music blared through loudspeakers (Ledet’s songs, of course) and tailgaters grilled and cooked.
A few even dared to set up all night, as Patty Victory did, along with her husband, Loren, and family friends Lonnie Gaspard and Donald Vincent.
The group, who are active members of Westlake High football booster club, spent the night in a camper, hoping that would to ensure good viewing spots for the football team and boosters.
“It is very community-building,” Victory said. “We’ve seen people out here that we haven’t seen in a long time. It’s sort of like when the football team went to the ‘Dome (Louisiana Superdome for the 2007 Class 3A state football championship game).”
Westlake High School students and faculty gathered in the high school’s gym following the parade, where Ledet sang “When a Man Loves a Woman” and “Jar of Hearts” for them.
Ledet received special attention from the Westlake cheerleaders, who made up several cheers for him.
“This is insane, this is crazy. I didn’t know I had so many people back home supporting me,” Ledet said as he was greeted in the gym by the roaring crowd. “Just coming back and seeing everybody support me, it’s so much fun. It makes me feel real good inside.”
Megan Ortego and Taylor Whitley, members of the Westlake High dance team, said they think Ledet “is amazing.”
“He’s a great guy,” Whitley said. “This is like a dream come true. He’s always talked about being on ‘American Idol,’ so it’s really cool for him.”
“(The parade) was really exciting,” Ortego said. “We used to go to (Ledet’s) house all the time for bon fires and stuff, so it’s kind of funny to see him on TV now. We’re all use to always seeing him here. It’s amazing though.”
Jaylin Peltier, a student at Westlake, said he “thinks Josh is very good at what he does.”
“It’s really exciting to see him on TV because I kind of grew up with Josh,” Peltier said. “I get chills every time I see him. Today has been really exciting.”
Ledet also presented his former high school teacher, Kerry Onxley, with tickets to the “American Idol” season finale.
Dickerson said there were no incidents or arrests.
“Everyone was very understanding and very cooperative,” he said.
For more stories and pictures of Westlake native and "American Idol" contestant Josh Ledet, pick up a copy of Sunday's American Press. Check our website www.americanpress.com, our Facebook page www.facebook.com/americanpress and our YouTube channel www.youtube.com/lcamericanpress.com for stories, photos and videos.