Now local fans have another reason to vote for St. Petersburg-raised American Idol contestant Michael Lynche: The Fox network has confirmed that, if Lynche survives next week's elimination episode, he will return to St. Petersburg for the hometown visit taken by the show's top three contestants.
St. Petersburg officials said representatives for the show are considering three locations for a free concert featuring Lynche that could accommodate 5,000 to 15,000 people: the Pier, Straub Park and Spa Park (a tiny peninsula that juts out from the Pier).
They want something iconic," said Robert Danielson, a city spokesman.
Lynche, who now lives in Astoria, N.Y., grew up in St. Petersburg, attending the Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School. He also briefly worked as a student teacher at Thurgood Marshall Middle School. His mother Michele Lynche, who died in 2004, was a community columnist for the St. Petersburg Times.
Typically, an Idol contestant's hometown visit falls on the Friday after they are confirmed in the top three; this year, that would be May 14. The daylong event usually begins with stops by morning radio shows and the local Fox affiliate — in this case, WTVT-Ch. 13 in Tampa. Later, the singer may visit their old high school and usually performs a few songs at a public concert, where city officials bestow some kind of accolade.
Two years ago, Syesha Mercado brought the American Idol juggernaut to the Tampa Bay area, visiting Booker High School in Sarasota and headlining a brief public concert in front of the Ringling Museum.
If Lynche survives the show's movie theme week next Tuesday and Wednesday, then St. Petersburg will be next to welcome the circus of media attention Idol generates, allowing local fans to welcome home a gentle giant who teachers always hoped would find success as a performer.
Times staff writer Michael Van Sickler contributed to this report.