When Candice Glover watched previous seasons of “American Idol,” she used to imagine what it would be like to experience the hometown parade and concert that the Top 3 contestants on the show receive.
“I had dreamed about this,” she said when she arrived Friday evening at a private air terminal at the Savannah-Hilton Head Island International airport. Glover, who made it to the Top 3 in the reality singing show on Thursday night, was returning to Beaufort County to have her own parade and concert, which will be Saturday in downtown Beaufort.
About 125 fans from Beaufort, Yemassee and Savannah were ready and waiting at the airport for the St. Helena Island native. They held colorful signs, shouted welcomes and took plenty of pictures on their cellphones.
The crowd swarmed her as she came down the stairs from the jet. Glover stood in the rain, giving hugs and signing autographs before she made her way into the terminal. After meeting her, one little girl ran away screaming, "Can you believe that’s her?"
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This was Glover's third try at "American Idol." She had auditioned in 2009, 2011 and again last summer.
She hopes her story will be a lesson to the dozens of kids around her: Never give up.
“If you get told no, it doesn’t matter,” Glover said Friday. “Just because somebody tells you no, that doesn’t mean you won’t get a yes down the line. Keep on going. I’m living proof that dreams do come true.”
Glover was accompanied by her hometown best friend Laquan Fields, who also auditioned for "Idol," and her cousins, Lindsey, Melony and Ashley Middleton, who surprised her at the airport.
"I can't believe this is happening," Glover said of the crowd, which chanted "We'll be there tomorrow, rain or shine" for the cameras.
"I am super excited to be here. I can't wait till tomorrow," said Glover, who added that she thinks she can win. "I believe in myself."
Paula Hagan and her mother Linda Hagy, both of Yemassee, drove to Savannah and waited with posters of Glover, which they decorated with glitter, streamers and blinking stars.
"It just gives some light to her face," Hagy said.
The women don’t personally know Glover, but wanted to show their support.
"I'm just fascinated with her," Hagan said.
Jenna Ingalsbe, 15, of Plymouth, Mich., was among those waiting for Glover. On vacation on Hilton Head Island, the teen said she loves Glover and "American Idol."
"I wouldn't miss it," said Ingalsbe, who wanted to be there to assure Glover that she had what it takes to win.
“I’d love to meet her and say hi and tell her I think she’s great and that I am rooting for her,” she said.
A parade in Glover’s honor will start at 5 p.m. today Saturday in Beaufort, followed by a concert at 7 p.m. She almost gave away what songs she will sing, but stopped herself short.
“I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise,” she said.
Glover said her favorite performances on the show so far were her renditions of The Cure's "Lovesong" and Tom Jones' "I Who Have Nothing," both of which garnered national media attention and received high marks from the "Idol" judges.
Youthful Praiz, a local nondenominational youth choir, will join Glover on stage tomorrow night. They will sing gospel numbers, “There Is No Way” and “Set Me Free.”
Glover joined the group, under the direction of Luella Jackson, in 2008. Jackson said that while Glover had the voice, there was a time she lacked confidence in herself, never realizing how talented she was.
“I used to always tell her, ‘Baby, you make the hairs on the back of people’s neck stand up,’” Jackson said.