Preston’s ‘American Idol’ homecoming brings thousands to Mont Vernon, Souhegan High School

MONT VERNON – Many speculated that there were more people watching Alex Preston perform in front of Mont Vernon’s Town Hall on May 10 than live in the entire town. They may be right.

Thousands of people, many of them holding signs and snapping pictures with their phones, did whatever they could to catch a glimpse of Preston during his homecoming as a top three finalist on “American Idol.”

Children climbed on their parents’ shoulders, trees and walls to get a better view of the hometown boy turned celebrity as he performed two songs for his most fervent fans.

Jill Parolin, who knew Preston from Souhegan High School, said she’ll never forget it. Preston performed at Parolin’s 18th birthday party, and on May 10, Parolin watched Preston with three of her closest friends.

“I think it’s crazy, because in high school, he performed everywhere,” Parolin said. “Now, we see him on TV.”

Parolin said she always knew Preston was talented, and that Preston’s drive has taken him to the next level.

Mia Maden, 12, of Mont Vernon, said Preston’s visit was the best thing to ever happen in this town of a little more than 2,000 people.

“He’s awesome. I like his singing, I like his hair,” Mia said.

Anna Szok waited on the blocked-off Route 13 for Preston’s motorcade, which was provided with a police escort. Szok’s husband was trying to take a picture of Preston’s procession with a drone .

“I knew nothing about ‘American Idol,’ but I’m glad a local boy is doing well,” Szok said. “And oh, my gosh, he’s from Mont Vernon.”

Once Preston wrapped up his visit to Mont Vernon, he headed to his alma mater in Amherst.

At Souhegan High School, even more fans waited. McKenzie Degroot, 17, drove from Groton, Mass., with two of her friends to see Preston. Degroot said she has been hooked on Preston’s singing since his audition.

“When I saw his audition, he was so unique,” Degroot said. “His style was so different and very original.”

As fans of Preston waited for him at the back of the school, hundreds of people began rolling up their pants to emulate Preston’s capri style.

Preston didn’t take the day lightly. He said he would uphold the pride that so many people have in his art.

“A lot of people go through this competition and kind of change, as opposed to grow,” Preston said. “And I’ve just used this to learn more about myself.”

Preston said his secret is doing “what I want to do” and taking advice when it’s offered.

“Before I started this, I didn’t have much confidence,” Preston said. “Now, going though this, it’s really gained my self-confidence.”

Preston said he thinks about his friends, his girlfriend, his family and “everyone who supports me” when he is performing in front of millions on television.

Preston performed his self-written song, “Fairytales” at Mont Vernon Town Hall and Souhegan High School.

Gov. Maggie Hassan proclaimed May 10 “Alex Preston Day” in the state, and presented the singer with a proclamation.

Preston finished his first singing of “Fairytales” as the church bells in Mont Vernon began to ring at 2 p.m., cutting the song short.

At Souhegan High School, Preston thanked thousands of fans for coming to see him, and said he was glad to get out of the “L.A. bubble.”

“Being able to thank you all in person means so much,” Preston said.

Bradford Randall can be reached at 594-6557 or brandall@nashua