Pomona Throws A Giant Parade For Its Hometown 'American Idol' Finalist Alejandro Aranda
This... is American Idol — Pomona edition, featuring a parade and a free concert.
There have been a lot of changes for reality singing contest American Idol over the years — moving from Fox to ABC, shortening the season, changing the judges again...and again, but some of the show's original staples have survived the test of time. Ryan Seacrest is still hosting, and as always, this season he's sending the contest's top three on celebratory hometown tours.
This year, one of them is from L.A. County's very own city of Pomona. Alejandro Aranda, known before American Idol as "Scary Pool Party," made his name locally with a distinctive musical style including falsetto vocals and guitar picking wizardry, along with a ton of originality.
Pomona's declaring Tuesday "Alejandro Aranda Day," and they're rolling out the red carpet. They're closing down streets starting at 10 a.m., with an afternoon parade set to start at 4:30, which will lead up to the historic Fox Theater. The mayor will be making a personal presentation to Alejandro, followed by a free concert around 6:30, on an outdoor stage that's been constructed right in front of the theater.
"It kind of feels surreal, to be honest," Alejandro told ABC7. "There's obviously people coming out and showing love, and that means a lot to me."
"We think it's incredible," Pomona Deputy City Manager Mark Gluba told LAist. "We think it's done nothing but reflect positively on the community. And Alejandro's done nothing but praise Pomona."
The city's been taking an active interest in Alejandro's success, posting about him on its Facebook page and calling him "homie."
Alejandro's such a hometown favorite, even the police department shared pro-Alejandro sentiments on social media.
Pomona Mayor Tim Sandoval is the one who clued the rest of the city's government into Alejandro's American Idol fame, after seeing his audition.
"I think [Alejandro] felt all along that he was kind of destined to make the final three and be Pomona's idol here," Gluba said.
The event had to come together even faster than Alejandro's guitar playing. The city got a call from American Idol two weeks ago letting them know that Alejandro had just made the final six — and that if he made it past another round, the finalists' communities would all have to plan a parade and free concert for their hometown visits, Gluba said. A couple of those communities won't get to hold those events, thanks to their contestants getting eliminated Sunday night — but Alejandro made it through.
It's a big event — based on feedback and what they've heard from other communities, Pomona is expecting crowds in the 10,000 range, and Gluba said it could even be double that number.
"It's all speculation," Gluba said. "We've anecdotally heard stories of people that are coming in from Washington, from Nevada, from Oregon, driving up from San Diego, flying down from San Francisco. We're planning as if it's an extremely large-scale event."
They've been hearing from a lot of SoCal fans wanting to support a local, too.
"This isn't just a Pomona thing," Gluba said. "There's folks from throughout the region that are saying, 'This is our guy. This is the local guy, we identify with him, we want to come out and support him.'"
The city had originally been told by Idol to expect five to seven songs, with the clockin in at around half an hour — but Alejandro wanted to do more, according to Gluba. Alejandro is known for being a prolific songwriter, doing a number of originals on the show, so he's got plenty of material — they city has been told the show could now run longer than an hour. Originals often backfire on contestants, but Alejandro's tunes have consistently shocked the judges and audiences with their quality, making him an instant fan favorite.
Fellow Pomona singer-songwriter Ben Harper will be appearing alongside Alejandro at the concert. He's appeared on American Idol before, doing a duet with the younger musician and giving him his seal of approval.
Alejandro is gaining folk-hero status in Pomona — local artists even painted a 20-by-30-foot mural of him on the side of the Alley Gallery, which is along the parade route. The Idol crew is already in town filming the mural and shooting more footage around town, with highlights from the event set to air during Sunday night's finale episode of the show. A chalk art mural of Alejandro is also planned for the front of the Fox Theater.
The parade has a relatively short route, focused around Alejandro — it's set to include him and perhaps a couple more vehicles, along with the Garey High School Band and police escorts, according to Gluba.
They are encouraging the public to start lining the parade route early, starting at 3 p.m. The city is also offering free shuttles to and from the parade and concert areas, as well as making all downtown public parking free for the duration of the event.
Pomona's street closures could make getting around downtown challenging, according to Gluba. The toughest on the community, he said, will be the closure of Gary Avenue — one of the city's major corridors. A soft closure of the street will start at 3, with a hard closure at 4.
You can find all the details about Pomona's free Alejandra Aranda Day events on Facebook, as well as street closures, shuttles, and more.
This story has been updated.