The Idol finalist kisses the grass and rides in a parade

By Michaele Ballard
Updated May 15, 2011 02:30 PM
Credit: Frank Micelotta/FOX/PictureGroup

True to his word to kiss the grass when he returned to his hometown of Garner, N.C., Scotty McCreery fell to the ground and buried his face in the freshly cut lawn.

“Ah, Carolina grass,” the American Idol finalist told his family and friends who rushed to greet him when the limo pulled up in front of his house Saturday.

“I cut the grass just for this occasion,” his father Michael McCreery said while giving him a big hug.

May 14, 2011, was proclaimed Scotty McCreery Day by the mayor in honor of the 17-year-old hometown hero who put the community of 25,000 on the map.

Garner residents came out in droves to get a glimpse of McCreery wherever he popped up: at the local Lowe’s Foods store where he used to bag groceries, at his local high school, where friends, fellow baseball team players, teachers and fans jammed the front steps and hallways.

The streets along a parade route were lined with fans, from grandparents to ‘tweens carrying signs of adoration such as “Carolina girls love Scotty,” “Scotties Hotties,” and even an Irish Setter wearing a sign that claimed, “I watch Scotty too.”

More than 30,000 people, a crowd larger than the annual 4th of July celebration at the park, stood should to shoulder, singing along to a medley of McCreery’s favorites.

“I have missed you so, so much,” McCreery told the crowd. “I am so proud of you, I am so thankful I come from such a good town. You did this for me.”

After a short time to visit with family and friends and a lunch of his favorites: Bojangles fried chicken (spicy and regular), warm mulberry biscuits drizzled with icing and a large sweet tea, McCreery was off to the ballpark to practice pitches.

The climax was his surprise drop-in at his prom. “I’m so excited to he here. I thought I would have to miss my prom,” he said. “Oh my gosh, it’s such an honor to be back here.”

McCreery was among the three Idol finalists making homecoming tours this weekend. Lauren Alaina went back to Rossville, Ga., and Haley Reinhart returned to Wheeling, Ill.