More than 300 people packed Ogg'’s Pizza and Brewing Company in Chula Vista Wednesday night to support American Idol finalist Jessica Sanchez at a larger than life viewing party.
Friends and family, city officials, teachers and members of the public came out in force to support the Chula Vista teen, who has made it to the top seven on the show’s eleventh season.
After last week’s performance, Jessica was voted in the bottom three and ultimately was saved from elimination by the show’s judges.
American Idol host Ryan Seacrest said Jessica was “singing for redemption” Wednesday night.
That she did, at least in the eyes of her fans who praised her two performances, especially her rendition of “Fallin'” by Alicia Keys.
Jessica’s Eastlake Middle School choir teacher John Academia and his current class sang two songs prior to the show airing, including “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz and “Someone like you,” by Adele.
“We’re at Oggi’s doing a celebration party for Jessica trying to drum up support because she almost got voted off last week” he said. “So all the people in Chula Vista that haven’t been voting, we’re trying to get them to vote now.”
In the past Academia also stated that Jessica's talent was extraordinary in middle school too.
“She was amazing back then when she was thirteen,” he said. “She had a strong voice, excellent vibrato and confidence.”
A few dignitaries were also present to encourage everyone to vote, including Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox and her husband County supervisor Greg Cox.
“To be saved by the judges to me was just an appropriate decision …” Cox said.
Congressman Bob Filner, who is running for mayor of San Diego, also showed up at Oggi’s.
“It really gives you a sense of pride in the community to see all this support,” he said.
One of Jessica’s middle school friends Nicole Hunnicutt, 17, said Jessica has always been a great singer and her success was only a matter of time.
“Honestly she doesn’t even have to win the competition,” she said. “We’re all just proud of her that she’s got so far … She’s already proved to the world that she’s got talent.”
Perhaps unexpected were some other fans from the city’s fire department.
Two engines and eight firefighters also cheered Jessica on Wednesday night.
“She’s very talented and we hope she keeps doing well,” said firefighter Victor Reeves from truck 57. “She’s a great person to have represent the community.”
Oggi’s owner Christian Herrera said Wednesday night’s event produced a larger turn out than expected but said he welcomes Idol mania.
“We’d like to be known in the community as the go-to place for events like these,” he said.
Herrera, who tripled his staff for the event, said he plans to keep the viewing parties going as long as Jessica is successful on the show.
“The family’s effort is what caused all this,” he said. “I hope she sees the turnout. We’re honored and privileged to showcase her efforts.”
Younger fans that evening said she has the strongest voice in the competition and consistently chooses the best songs.
Early last week, the city of Chula Vista posted a reminder on their home page to support Jessica by hanging signs, banners, posters and posting messages on Facebook.
They city also is utilizing an electronic traffic sign that reads, “Jessica is our idol,” as well as a banner on one of the city’s fire trucks that states, “Our American idol: Jessica.”
Other viewing parties were held in Chula Vista and National City Wednesday.
American Idol airs on Wednesday at 8 p.m. PST on the Fox Network. Voting begins at the end of the show, 10 p.m. PST. There are several ways to vote: online at AmericanIdol.com (via Facebook), text message (AT&T only) or a toll free phone number listed during the show.
Tonight at 8 p.m. viewers will discover if Jessica has made it to the next round.
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