by Lori Cunningham
I received an email a week ago, it’s the kind of e-mail you hope for but never dream it would happen to you. I can now say, yes, it has happened to me. The e-mail was from Ford asking me if I would like to attend the American Idol Finale as their guest. It took me three seconds to formulate a response. Three seconds only because I hesitated as I wished my husband could go with me. A second reading of the e-mail made it clear that I could invite one guest. Score! I couldn’t wait to tell my husband the news.
My husband was beside himself. My 9-year-old daughter? Less than thrilled, only because I had chosen my husband over her. Wow. A day or two later I was informed that Ford had also secured two VIP tickets for us to the after party! Wow, it just kept getting better! We couldn’t wait!
With the help of my great in-laws and some friends, we were free and clear to go. Although my daughter was disappointed she couldn’t go, she was happy we got to go, and besides, we might be able to score her some autographs. Hollie Cavanagh was her favorite and her top request for an autograph.
We had a fun dinner with some great representatives of Ford. They ordered all sorts of fun appetizers and the desserts were so cool – mini replicas of childhood favorites! Soon afterwards we made our way into the theater. The Nokia theater seats 20,000 people! And you know what? They all showed up! Walking into the theater was a thrill. It looked just like it does during the show, only bigger. We sat about 25 rows back from the front on the Orchestra level, towards the left of the stage. How I wish I could have taken pictures to show you, but then again, if you watched the show, you saw it!
It was a thrill watching Rhiana, Aerosmith, Jennifer Lopez, Reba, Neil Diamond, Chaka Kahn, and more. But to tell you the truth, my favorite performance was between Jessica Sanchez and Jennifer Holliday. Wow, it was incredible and watching the gestures on Jennifer’s face was a crack-up. Jessica said later in an interview that she and Jennifer only practiced the song together once. Jessica is truly a phenomenal singer and I have no doubt she will do well in her career. She was my favorite going to the finale, but it struck me while I was in the audience that Phillip Phillips would win because of his style, confidence in who he is, and all American boyish looks. I loved how he couldn’t finish his “Home” song at the end and instead went to hug his parents. Being a mom, I was very teary-eyed at that gesture.
The After Party!
Wow, what a fun party. Although there were several after parties that night, this was the big sponsored party put on my Ford, Coke, and Fox. I figured our chances of seeing the young Idol stars were pretty good as they would no doubt be scheduled to make a presence, since the party was thrown by the main sponsors of the show. The party took place in a big white tent, on the top floor of a nine-floor parking garage! The tent was huge, nearly as big as a football field.
Once inside, you completely forgot you were in a tent on the top of a parking garage! As soon as you walk in you see Ford’s new 2013 Ford Escape. This is the one I read about where you don’t need any hands on the car or your key FOB to open the liftgate. Simply kick your foot underneath the back of the car and the liftgate opens for you. Amazing. If a dog runs or a ball rolls underneath the back of the car, it won’t open. This is because it only opens if you have the key FOB nearby like in your purse or pocket. I love Ford’s innovation.
Anyways, back to the party. The food was good and generous. Lots of variety. It was a buffet but they also had waiters passing by with appetizers, which was good when you found yourself talking and unable to get to the buffet line. Although I love food, I don’t necessarily call myself a “foodie.” But a “dessertie” I am! If there’s dessert, I’m all over it! They had two tables set in the back with rice crispy balls on a stick, mini flourless petit four cakes (yum), mini churros, some great berries with fresh cream, and a gourmet marshmallow type of s’mores. I was successfully able to fill every last nook and cranny in my stomach with these delightful treats.
They had swanky chairs and couches on platforms throughout the tent. A huge bar in the middle, with a couple more conveniently located around the outside. Drinks were free and free-flowing.
We were able to meet up with a few of the Idol stars for a few autographs and pics. Unbelievably, Hollie Cavanagh walked right by me as I was talking with a new friend. She was my first sighting and the top person my daughter wanted me to meet! I gently tapped her and asked her for an autograph. She happily obliged. I liked her, very gracious and accommodating. She slipped away and I continued talking until I realized, yikes! I didn’t get a picture of her. Off I went quickly navigating the crowd until I found her again. Being a bit embarrassed, I politely apologized for stalking her. Hollie graciously obliged again. My daughter would be thrilled!
The next star on my daughter’s agenda was Jessica Sanchez. Jessica was not nearly as accessible nor had the flexibility of time. She is a beautiful young girl, stunning really. And yes, just as bit as skinny and petite as she looks on TV. I was able to pose with her as she made her descent from the raised “star lounge.” Just in the nick of time before her body guard drew her away.
My husband was able to catch Phillip Phillips on camera before he too exited the after party. He was enjoying “taking it all in.” I can imagine he won’t fully believe he won the Idol title for a week or two. He’s living the dream.
We were able to intercept Joshua Ledet as he exited through the front door. Joshua is an amazing singer, I really wanted to see him in the finale. I love his attitude, his free-spirit, and vocals. He is also very friendly, happy, and cordial in person. A class act.
Remember Jeremy Rosado? He too was very generous and warm…very open to pictures and autographs. I asked him if he was going to follow up with J. Lo to see if she could help his career, since Jeremy was one of her favorites throughout the show. She said he’s hoping to catch up with her that to find out.
It was a real pleasure meeting Elise Testone. She is a fun, bubbly, humorous young lady with a lot of spirit. She too was very gracious in signing autographs and posing for pictures. She was another of my daughter’s favorites.
One more of my daughter’s favorites was Skylar Laine. Full of gusto on the show, Skylar was a bit distracted when we met her. She wasn’t as friendly as we thought she would be. She did pose for pictures and sign her autograph for us. I’ll chalk it up to her being pulled in various directions that night and she probably had something on her mind.
Now I would be remiss if I didn’t show you the fun new gadget I met at the after party. Coke has a new vending machine that incorporates a touch screen. How cool is that! It’s a huge touchscreen too that plays videos (notice the newscasters talking about American Idol on top?) and gives you a full-size picture of each of the drinks in the vending machine. You touch the drink you want, confirm it, and it pops out into the tray below. Slick!
Phew! At the end of the night, my dogs were barking. I’m not used to wearing 4-inch healed boots. OK, maybe they were 2-inches, but they sure felt like 4! My husband and I sat back on the leather couches, soaking it all in, and pounded the water. Ahhhh, what a night.
* I was given American Idol Finale tickets, dinner, and the after party tickets by Ford without anything expected in return. I am grateful for this opportunity, thank you, Ford.Tweet