'Idol' coming home

'Idol' coming home

May 14th, 2011 by Staff Report in News

Lauren Alaina Suddeth, American Idol contestant, descends the stairs to a small crowd of friends, family and fans Friday night at the Chattanooga airport. Staff photo by Jake Daniels/Chattanooga Times Free Press

A little more than a day after 16-year-old Lauren Alaina Suddeth made it into "American Idol's" top 3, Chattanooga will welcome the Rossville singer home with a series of celebrations.

Suddeth arrived home Friday night via private jet for a short visit before she must fly back to Los Angeles on Sunday. A crew with "American Idol" also is in town to film segments from around the area; those will air Wednesday night.

Karen Alayne, a Suddeth family friend, said the Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School sophomore's life "is changed forever."

"I'm just so proud of her, and so happy for her and what this means for Chattanooga and what this means for Rossville and for her," she said in a news release.

Viewers cast a record number of votes - 71 million - Wednesday night after the four "Idol" finalists performed two songs. On Thursday night, show host Ryan Secrest announced Suddeth was among the three finalists.

While Suddeth's visit home is short, the singing sensation will be busy. Her schedule today includes:

• 8:45 a.m.: An appearance at the AT&T retail store, 1853 Gunbarrel Road.

• 10 a.m.: Festivities at Coolidge get under way.

• Noon: A parade in Chattanooga from the north end of the Walnut Street Bridge into Coolidge Park, with performances by the Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe and Soddy-Daisy high school bands. This will be followed by a "meet-and-greet" session with Suddeth in front of the stage.

Then Suddeth will perform several songs that will be covered on next week's Idol episode. She will be backed by the Taylor Reed Band. Mayor Ron Littlefield will present Suddeth with a key to the city.

The Coolidge Park event is free and open to the public, according to Missy Crutchfield, administrator of the city's Education, Arts & Culture Department.

• 3 p.m.: Suddeth will serve as grand marshal in a parade down Battlefield Parkway to Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High. The parade begins at Office Depot near Cross Street and Battlefield Parkway.

• 3-7 p.m.: Ford Drive One For Your School fundraiser at LFO campus. Ford, an "American Idol" sponsor, will donate $20 to the school for every test drive in one of 10 to 12 cars the automaker will have on site.

• 7:15 p.m.: Suddeth will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Lookouts game at AT&T Field in Chattanooga.

• All times are subject to change to meet "American Idol's" production schedule.