Videos, Photos, Live Reports Show Haley's Emotional Journey Home

Patch provides coverage throughout the day of Haley Reinhart's hometown appearances as part of American Idol's top three contestants.

Haley Reinhart Day!

That's what for Haley Reinhart's return to the area today for her hometown visit as part of her journey from Harper College student to one of American Idol's top three contestants.

Patch editors kept this page updated live with photos, stories and videos from her various appearances. Scroll down to see updates from all her hometown appearances and check back to continue to follow Haley's journey in the coming weeks.


This portion of the report was contributed by Patch Editor Chi-an Chang.


UPDATE: 9:22 p.m.

Season five "American Idol" contestant David Radford, who graduated from Crystal Lake Central High School, complimented Haley Reinhart's versatility.

"Haley's ability to adapt and excel consistently in each genre has been very impressive," Radford said. "I'll be interested to see how the show finishes out. Good luck Haley!"

Radford will be blogging on the Crystal Lake Patch. His

This portion of the report was contributed by Patch Editor Michael Bivona.


UPDATE: 8:25 p.m.

VIDEO: Haley Tells Hundreds 'You're Nuts' for Greeting Her in the Rain

Hundreds of Haley Reinhart’s friends, relatives and fans braved a cool and rainy afternoon to welcome the 20-year-old back to Wheeling for the town’s American Idol hometown celebration.

The crowd included people of all ages who came from near and far to celebrate Reinhart’s placement in the competition’s final three.

The Hembd family of Wheeling was among the first to arrive on the village’s Community Campus. Mom Alexis, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a heart, stood to the left of her five kids, Kasey, Zack, Austin, Justine and Samantha, whose shirts each bore a letter of Haley’s name.

Reinhart was once the family’s babysitter, they said, and they vote for her each week.

“We love her. She’s got talent,” Alexis Hembd said.

A group of about 30 of Reinhart’s relatives agreed. They arrived in Wheeling wearing matching “I Love Haley” T-shirts, anxious to see her.

Reinhart’s cousin, Karen Eastman, said she just got back from Hollywood, where she watched a live American Idol competition.

“It was awesome. It’s nothing like watching it at home. It’s like, wow!” she said.

This portion of the report was contributed by Patch Editor Cristel Mohrman.

UPDATE: 8:03 p.m.

Haley Reinhart's aunt, Margie Rosenfield, looked around Arlington Park Saturday, she said she just couldn't believe it.

"I'm walking around," she said, putting her hands on her head. "And oh my God. It's just brought a world of people together. That little girl has brought everyone together. It's unbelievable."

Rosenfield said she is Haley's dad's sister, and Haley calls her "Auntie Margie." She said Haley is so excited to be home for the first time since January.

"She's overwhelmed," Rosenfield said. "I saw the tears in her eyes. She was just so happy."

Rosenfield's daughter, Emma Rosenfield, 22, said she got to see her cousin perform"Call Me" onstage in Hollywood.

"It's a lot of fun," Emma Rosenfield said.

This portion of the report was contributed by Patch Editor Gloria Casas.


Update: 7:56 p.m.

Carly Tkach, 16,  Hannah Fitzpatrick, 16 and Alyssa Peterson, 15, got to the race park early and grabbed some drinks while they waited. The concert was being delayed but everyone’s sprits were up.

“We love Haley,” Tkach said of why they came out to the concert.

The girls have been following “American Idol” since the beginning of the season and Peterson picked Haley out as an early favorite.

“I liked her singing and later I found out she was from around here,” the teen said.

Tkach and Peterson both sing in the Conant High School choir, singing alto and soprano, respectively, and know what it takes to hit high notes.

“I feel like she (Haley) knows what she’s doing,” Peterson said, adding she felt Haley’s performance of Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song” was great.

Of the little controversy that has erupted around that performance, where Haley defended herself against some of the judges’ comments, Peterson said it’s all an overreaction.

“She’s just defending herself,” Peterson said.

“She’s very confident,” Tkach said.

The teens felt that was a good trait and Haley was a good role model as a result.

Marianne Leonard, of Wheeling, is very excited about Haley, a hometown girl. Leonard has a Facebook page where she’ll be putting all her photos from today, including one she got of Haley up close.

Leonard is a graduate of Wheeling High School. Everyone in Wheeling has been voting for Haley and talking about each performance. A popular local restaurant that the American Idol start frequents, Grammy D’s, has a Haley special. It’s her favorite, the chocolate chip pancakes, Leonard said.

“We are behind her 100 percent,” she said.

Adrianna Ladner made her own sign and laminated to protect it from the rain. She came with her brother, Zach, 21, and her friend Rachael Gabanski, 16.

Zack came with his sister but, “I like Haley too. I feel like a teeny bopper saying when I say it,” he said, laughing.

The Ladner family likes her “unique” singing style and the fact she is local.

“I love how it’s back-to-back years that we have people who live near me who’ve made it this far,” Zach said.

This portion of the report was contributed by Patch Editor Gloria Casas.


UPDATE: 4:55 p.m.

Saturday's trip to Arlington Park was an extra special day for Kalista Heeren, of Algonquin, who was celebrating her 12th birthday and sported a birthday crown and yellow rain coat with all kinds of messages to her “American Idol.”

The 12-year-old couldn't wait to see Haley Reinhart perform at Arlington Park Saturday. She arrived hours ahead of schedule to get a seat for Haley's hometown performance.

The Heeren family are big "American Idol" fans, they said.

“We’ve watched it every year since she was 3,” her mom, Kristin Doane said.

Heeren was at last year’s homecoming for Lee DeWyze but couldn’t get into the orchestra seats because she was too young.

But Saturday, she staked out her seat in that section early.

Traffic wasn’t bad at 3:30 p.m. when fans started trickling into the racetrack. The crowd was mixed with racing fans catching the last few horse races of the day and Haley fans, many of them young families.

The cold spring weather didn’t seem to be deterring fans.

Samantha Tadelman of Buffalo Grove, 19, came out to cheer Haley and bought a pin to show her support.

“I’m a fan of ‘American Idol’ but it’s exciting because she’s from around here,” the Columbia College photography student said. She brought her camera to shoot photos.

While Haley was not Tadelman’s first choice, she has gotten caught up in Haley fever.

“I hope she wins,” Tadelman said.

This portion of the report was contributed by Patch Editor Gloria Casas.


UPDATE: 3:56 p.m. 

Haley fans are starting to gather around the Wheeling Village Hall waiting for her appearance.

Hundreds of people came out to support the hometown American Idol contestant. The village president will speak at the event.


UPDATE 2:02 p.m.

Haley Reinhart could no longer hold in her emotions as she stood in front of the audience cheering her on in the gymnasium of her alma mater, Wheeling High School.

She bent down over the crowd, crying.

She talked about reuniting with her music teacher at WHS, Brian Logan, and how all of the events in her life have led to that  moment. She said she hopes it inspires her fans to do what they want to do.

This portion of the report was contributed by Patch Editor Jim Powers.


UPDATE 11:53 a.m.

PHOTO GALLERY: Wheeling Readies For Haley's Hometown Arrival

Wheeling officials are quickly preparing for this afternoon’s parade and ceremony to honor Haley Reinhart.

This morning, “Wheeling Welcomes Home Haley Reinhart” banners were in place on the front of the Wheeling Park District building and above the entrance to Village Hall, where a canopied stage awaits the singer.

Police had already closed off that parking lot and placed temporary no parking signs along the spur connecting Community Boulevard to the Wheeling Police Department, where staff members worked to cover up a motorcycle awareness banner with one in Haley’s honor.

Meanwhile, the business community continues to show its support for Reinhart, some with long-standing messages on their marquees, and others, such as the digital sign at the entrance to the Westin Hotel, welcoming her home.

This portion of the report was contributed by Patch Editor Cristel Mohrman.

UPDATE 11:40 a.m.

Haley Reinhart gave her fans a treat Saturday morning when she revealed the American Idol judges' pick for the song she will sing at next week's show on May 18.

It will be "You Oughta Know" by Alanis Morissette.

"Very cool," Reinhart said. "I think the judges chose wisely."

After waiting for more than two hours in drizzle and 40-degree temperatures, fans of American Idol finalist Haley Reinhart warmed up quickly upon seeing their star Saturday morning in front of the AT&T store at Deer Park Promenade Towne Center.

Reinhart was originally scheduled to appear at 8:45 a.m., but it was after 10 a.m. by the time she walked out the front entrance of the AT&T store to greet her fans.

They screamed her name, cheered and asked for her to sing, but Reinhart declined to save her voice for tonight's concert at Arlington Park.

"I want to be able to really give it my all there, so come out and see me," Reinhart said.

Reinhart thanked the fans for coming, and then spent some time signing autographs to just about everything put in front of her, including cell phones, shirts, posters, photos and body parts.

"I wish there were eight of me," Reinhart said, trying to sign as many as possible.
Reinhart was slated to move on to Wheeling High School for a stop. A parade in her honor is set for 4:30 in downtown Wheeling and the concert follows at 6:30 p.m. at Arlington Park Race Track.

This portion of the report was contributed by Patch Editor Jim Powers.

UPDATE 8:04 a.m.

Marni Rotblut clutches a book that already contains the autographs of two previous American Idol winners, Lee DeWyze and Kris Allen.

She's ready to add who she believes will be the next one to join them, Wheeling's Haley Reinhart.

Rotblut, of Vernon Hills, was the first to show up at 7:20 a.m. Saturday morning at the AT&T store at Deer Park Towne Promenade where Reinhart will make an appearance as part of her coming home weekend in front of the fans who voted her as one of American Idol's top three finalists Thursday night.

A fan of the show, Rotblut said Reinhart made a early impression on her.
"She has a really pure, jazzy, deep voice," Rotblut said. "She has a really good personality, really grounded. She's really what the show stands for."

Rotblut said she wanted to attend last year's AT&T appearance by last year's Idol winner, Mount Prospect's Dewyze, but found out about it after the fact. This time she kept track online.

"I'm ready," she said.

This portion of the report was contributed by Patch Editor Jim Powers.

Matt Shedor May 14, 2011 at 06:10 PM
"Patch will provide coverage throughout the day of Haley's hometown appearances as part of American Idol's top three contestants." there are roughly 10 million people in the greater Chicagoland area, if you count Joliet, Naperville, etc.. hundreds of towns and cities comprise this geographical area. Algonquin, a town with over 30,000 people, is just one of these. The Patch concept is a focus on a specific community. This website is about Algonquin. and this is the Algonquin Patch . There is no shortage of people and stories from our own community. Why should the lede focus on some quasi celebrity from a town that is not adjoined to or even close to Algonquin?... where is the connection? What is the purpose?
Tara May Tesimu May 14, 2011 at 06:17 PM
Hi Matt! While we usually stick to local-only stories, we are talking to lots of people who are traveling from McHenry County to see the Haley festivities. We won't post the multitude of stories on this site like we have on the Palatine and Buffalo Grove Patch sites, where the businesses are big supporters of Haley's, but we figured lots of people would like to support the Chicago-area contestant. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Jared Bernstein May 18, 2011 at 03:33 AM
I have my own business called embroidme and we are in Arlington heights. We are huge fans of Haley and are selling Haley shirts at my store. We sold a lot of Haley shirts on Saturday to show are support. Embroidme in Arlington heights has haleys back. We still have plenty of shirts left


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