“American Idol” finalist Joshua Ledet of Westlake, La., is greeted by fans after his arrival from Los Angeles at Chennault International Airport in Lake Charles on Friday, May 11, 2012. Ledet, the 20-year-old top-three finalist on Fox’s TV singing competition will be honored with a parade in his home town on Saturday, May 12, 2012, and a pep rally in Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles that evening. (AP Photo/K Wink, LAKE CHARLES AMERICAN PRESS)
LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) — Southwest Louisiana has American Idol fever thanks to Westlake native Joshua Ledet’s signature gospel voice propelling him into the Fox TV singing competition’s Top 3.
On Saturday, the 20-year-old was the star of a noon parade in Westlake, located near the Texas state line. The parade wound though the city’s streets as hundreds of people lined the route, cheering him on.
Weather threatened the event, but a steady rain in the area broke before the parade’s start. A 6 p.m. CDT pep rally was scheduled at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles where he will perform for nearly 8,000 fans. Joining Ledet will be his cousin, zydeco singer and musician Brandon Ledet as well as Terrance Simien, Louisiana’s Grammy-winning zydeco musician.
The American Press reports (http://bit.ly/KcduRQ ) no one will be allowed in the coliseum without a ticket.
Jason Barnes, special programs and cultural affairs coordinator for the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, said officials in the area have spent the past week — or longer — planning for the weekend.
Once it was announced that Ledet had made it into the final three and would return home, 7,900 free tickets for the rally were distributed in under an hour, officials said.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve had a sellout crowd,” said Jared Lebleu, general manager of the coliseum.
The largest crowds, the facility usually handles are McNeese State graduations, which draw between 6,500 and 7,000 people.
At the Managan Center in Westlake, Chris Wilrye estimated that 4,000 people missed out on tickets to the pep rally. Because so many people went away empty handed, a live feed of the Burton Coliseum event will be shown from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Lake Charles Civic Center, said Angie Manning, communications director with the Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau. It will cost $5 to enter Contraband Days, a pirate festival in Lake Charles celebrating the legacy of the pirate Jean Lafitte, which also is going on there.
Ledet is also scheduled to make an appearance at that event.