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American Idol's Michael Lynche sees screaming crowds, nostalgia in hometown visit today

Lynch_at-gibbs ST. PETERSBURG -- At times, it was a bit like Beatlemania, as hordes of screaming kids descended on former American Idol contestant and St. Petersburg native Michael Lynche today during a stop at Thurgood Marshall Middle School.

A lucky few got one of his patented bear hugs, running away in a giddy mess to tell their friends (photo by Times staffer Chris Zuppa, taken at Gibbs).

It was the kind of homecoming local fans had hoped to have during the competition week ago. But Lynche was dropped from the show days before Idol filmed its Homecoming Week, where the top-rated show's cameras follow the three top contestants to their homes.

Still, there was lots of excitement today, as Lynche stopped by City Hall to get the key to the city and see June 3 declared Michael Lynche Day. Later, he would visit Gibbs High School, Hamilton Disston School, Thurgood Marshall Middle, Maximo Elementary and John Hopkins Middle.

Some moments which stood out:

Watching Lynche greet an 18-year-old kid he had mentored years ago while working as a student teacher at Thurgood Marshall. Standing nearby, was Gibbs' former school resource officer, who had provided the same mentoring for Lynche when he was in high school.

Seeing Lynche get a little emotional while remembering a chance meeting with one of his musical heroes, the funk band Earth, Wind and Fire, who let him watch one of their rehearsals recently. His late mother Michele Lynche, who died in 2004 of cancer, loved the band. "I wish i could have told her about that," he said, a little wistfully.

Watching Gibbs theater teacher Keven Renken regale the media with a story of how he had 305-pound standout football player Lynche play a drag queen in a production of Much Ado About Nothing.

Seeing city council member Wengay Newton try to walk back from an effusive speech where he called his wife a huge couch potato while expressing her love for Lynche and American Idol. "Mr. Newton will probably be sleeping on the couch tonight," quipped fellow council member Herb Poulson.

[Last modified: Thursday, August 12, 2010 2:15pm]


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