Lauren Alaina's Big Day In Chattanooga, Fort Oglethorpe

Saturday, May 14, 2011 - by Wendy King
Lauren Alaina
Lauren Alaina
- photo by Wes Schultz

When Lauren Alaina Suddeth arrived in Chattanooga on Friday night for the first time in almost three months, she was unable to sleep in her own bed at her Rossville residence.

Instead she settled for a few hours of slumber at an area hotel before embarking on Saturday’s whirlwind homecoming celebration befitting a top three American Idol finalist.

“She’s not just the pride of Rossville anymore, she’s the pride of America,” Rossville Mayor Johnny Baker said to the over 10,000 in attendance at Ms. Suddeth’s Coolidge Park rally while presenting her with the key to her hometown.

Ms. Suddeth along with remaining finalists Scotty McCreery of Garner, N.C., and Haley Reinhart of Wheeling, Ill., were treated to the cherished homecoming celebrations as a prize for being the top three contestants this season.

The 16-year-old pop-country sensation is less than two weeks away from possibly becoming the tenth Idol winner and the first female since Jordin Sparks four years ago to claim the coveted title.

“I’m so happy to be home,” she told the gathering, many of whom were wearing their new Lauren Alaina shirts that were sold for $20 each with proceeds benefitting her family for travel expenses to Los Angeles. “I’ve never enjoyed my hair frizzing out so much” in reference to the Chattanooga humidity.

She frequently thanked the audience for their support and repeatedly told them how much she loved them.

Ms. Suddeth sang excerpts of “Flat on the Floor” and “Anyway”, the latter of which she once again emotionally dedicated to those impacted by the April 27 tornadoes that have annihilated the region.

“I know I cry a lot, but I’m so sorry to see the devastation,” she said. Ms. Suddeth performed “Anyway” on last week’s top four telecast which propelled her to the final three.

An estimated four minutes of Ms. Suddeth’s homecoming footage including scenes from the aftermath of the tornadoes will be shown on Wednesday’s telecast when Ms. Suddeth will be singing three songs including the judges’ choice of “I Hope You Dance”.

Ms. Suddeth was also presented with the key to the city of Chattanooga by Mayor Ron Littlefield but she was especially touched by the gift of her portrait painted by 15-year-old Julia Maddalina of Rochester, N.Y.

Ms. Suddeth started her day with interviews at US-101 (WUSY) and at WDSI Fox 61 followed by a meet and greet at the Idol corporate sponsor AT&T Store on Gunbarrel Road, where an estimated 150 fans were able to briefly chat with her and get autographs.
She was then escorted across the Walnut Street Bridge by her Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School and Soddy-Daisy High School bands followed by numerous relatives who were riding in pedicabs.

The Taylor Reed Band accompanied by Ms. Suddeth’s vocal coach of five years Karen Alayne was the opening act for the Idol star.

The homecoming ran about two hours late due to production issues, but emcees Judge Russell Bean and Chattanooga Arts, Education and Culture Director Missy Crutchfield kept the crowd entertained as the excitement was building up to Ms. Suddeth’s arrival.

The weather also cooperated as earlier forecasts predicted a 30 percent chance of thundershowers but partly cloudy skies emerged with temperatures in the 70s.

After the Coolidge Park festivities, Ms. Suddeth was treated to her second parade as she traveled down Battlefield Parkway to a rally at LFO where she would see many of her classmates for the first time since she has become a celebrity. Ms. Suddeth has been tutored during her stay in Hollywood and is expected to meet graduation requirements sometime this summer.

Ms. Suddeth ended her very busy day by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch and singing “God Bless America” at the Tennessee Smokies-Chattanooga Lookouts game at AT&T Field.

Her mother Kristy reminded the Coolidge Park crowd to vote solidly for the two hours after Wednesday’s pivotal top three competition. If Ms. Suddeth advances to the final two, she would perform at the Nokia Theatre before a star-studded audience and get the keys to a Ford automobile.

Mrs. Suddeth joked that she has developed carpal-tunnel syndrome from voting so many times for her daughter.

Although Lauren and the other finalists, including Paul McDonald, the son of UTC’s Susan McDonald, will be starting their summer tour on July 6 in West Valley City, Utah, she has made one pledge.
“I’m coming home after (Idol) it’s over,” she said while encouraging her fans to follow her on Twitter at LAlainaAI10.

Perhaps, but life will never be the same.

Performing at Coolidge Park
Performing at Coolidge Park
- Photo2 by Wendy King

Bill Hoyt, 90, Skydives On The Occasion Of His 90th Birthday

Bill Hoyt tandem skydived with the Chattanooga Skydiving Company on Saturday.   Mr. Hoyt just celebrated his 90th birthday, was a World War II pilot, and tries to jump every few years on his birthday. (click for more)

Railroad Repair At Pineville Road Postponed

Norfolk Southern Railway has postponed the repairing of an at-grade track crossing in the 900 block of Pineville Road, between Parmenas Lane and Hudson Road.  This closure was originally scheduled for Wednesday, April 22, but will be rescheduled for a later time. (click for more)

Prominent Business, Civic Leader, And Philanthropist Scotty Probasco Dies At 86

Prominent Chattanooga business, civic leader and philanthropist Scotty Probasco has died at the age of 86. Scotty, as he was affectionately greeted by most of Chattanooga, was known for his modesty, generosity, dependability, and unswerving loyalty. “Great work” was always on the tip of his tongue – a manifestation of his joyous humility. He was a man of high ideals, of kind ... (click for more)

River Flood Warning Issued For Lookout Creek

There has been a river flood warning issued for Lookout Creek. Here is the warning from the National Weather Service: THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN PEACHTREE CITY HAS ISSUED A FLOOD WARNING FOR THE LOOKOUT CREEK NEAR NEW ENGLAND. FROM THIS MORNING UNTIL THIS AFTERNOON. AT 11AM SUNDAY THE STAGE WAS 11.7 FEET...AND RISING. FLOOD STAGE IS 12 FEET. THE CREEK WILL ... (click for more)

Proud Of Hometown Boy Turned Global Leader, Bob Corker

Time Magazine has it right.  Not only is Chattanooga’s own U.S. Senator Bob Corker one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World,” but he is probably now the most prominent leader in the history of our city.   At a time of extreme frustration with Washington and Congress in general, Bob continues to rise above the division and rancor to build consensus and solve ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Great Work, Ol’ Pro!

Years ago I was lucky enough to be the seatmate of Scotty Probasco on an airplane bound for somewhere and he taught me a word that has helped me be a much better person than I ever thought I could. We were already swell friends, since he’d watched me grow up at First Presbyterian Church every Sunday with his kids, and he liked some of the stuff I tried to write back then. So ... (click for more)