LIVINGSTON PARISH, La. (WAFB) - Laine Hardy was welcomed home with incredible fanfare Tuesday, May 14, just days after he won a spot in the American Idol finale. He started his day bright and early with a stop at the Governor’s Mansion, where First Lady Donna Edwards and Governor John Bel Edwards greeted him with a special surprise. May 14 was officially designated Laine Hardy Day.
“Louisiana is going to party with Laine Hardy,” said Gov. Edwards. “We wanted to make sure that he knew that the state was behind him and wish him well and we’re excited.”
Amid the camera flashes, from there he was off to his alma mater, French Settlement High School, where an overwhelming number of familiar faces showered him with hugs and packed the school gym to catch a glimpse of the American Idol finalist.
“Overwhelming. I’m so shocked still,” said Hardy. “I’m still trying to process everything.”
The last 48 hours have been a blur of unreal emotion as he secured his spot in the top three of the show, launching him one step closer to taking home the top prize. It’s a dream that doesn’t quite seem real for the 18-year-old, but even as a national phenomenon, he knows none of it would be possible without the outpouring of support from the place he calls home.
“It’s crazy. There’s no words for it,” said Hardy. “I mean, I can’t say anything to thank everybody. There’s no words that can describe how thankful I am and grateful and blessed I am.”
Livingston Parish was overrun Tuesday evening as thousands of fans descended on Highway 190 to celebrate in a true Louisiana way, with a parade and concert where they threw their full support behind their boy from the Bayou State.
“I mean, this is like tailgating, you know,” said Jeannie Rasmussen. “We support him and Louisiana, just the fans are awesome.”
Some of them traveled from all over the state, armed with signs, shirts, and just about any gear imaginable. They only goal they had in mind was to party with Hardy heading into the home stretch.
“I’ve been on his Party with Hardy website and following him from the very beginning,” Cindy Savoy added.
Others who know him best along the route said they cannot believe the staggering turnout or how this boy they grew up with has transformed before their eyes.
“His hair, his clothes, and his confidence are outstanding,” said Jolie Taylor-Smith. “Confidence is the main thing that I see. He’s just really turns it on when he goes on the stage.”
The fans say Hardy has already won no matter what happens in Sunday’s finale.
“I could only imagine what the pressure is on him,” she added. “No matter what, to us, he’s still our American Idol.”
If Hardy wins on Sunday, May 19, he will become the first winner from Louisiana in American Idol history.