There's a lot of Archu-LOVE-a out there.
Whether he becomes the next American Idol or not, David Archuleta has already touched a lot of lives, both with his music and with who he is.
Nowhere was that more evident than at the "Finale Rally" held at Murray High School Tuesday night. A thousand or so of his classmates, community supporters and biggest fans gathered at the school to watch the final competition and cheer him on.
"We just wanted to show our support," assistant principal Debbie Sorensen said. "We think that with all the people here, it will be almost as good as being there."
They handed out donated prepaid phones so people could text in their votes. They handed out tip sheets that told people how they could vote as often and as long as possible. They even provided food, donated by Jim's Family Restaurant, so people could eat while they voted after the show.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing," Sorensen said. "We are so proud of our David. This has brought the school and the community together in one of the best ways possible uniting behind someone we all admire."
People of all ages, from toddlers sporting David Archuleta T-shirts to students, parents and grandparents wearing more of the same, were all there to show support and join in the camaraderie. Talk to anyone there, and you quickly realize that the love flows easily.
"He's very, very good," said 10-year-old Aivry Nicholson.
"I love him. He's so cute," McKenzie Jolle said. "I've never watched the show until he got on."
"He's amazing. He's like our hero," Ali Walker said.
"He's a really good singer," Silvana Huerta said, "and he's got really good eyes. I'd buy a hundred of his CDs."
Rosa Corales, who was born in Spain and has lived in Murray for 19 years, started watching the show with her two friends. Her friends left before the show was over. Corales said they went to the English class that she was missing.
"They're scared," Corales said. "The teacher said to come, but I'm better here."
Although everyone agreed that Archuleta has, as Devin Jakeman said, "put Murray on the map," not everyone there was a local resident.
Karen Hill came with her granddaughters from Orem and South Jordan. "He's a wonderful role model," she said.
And she's not alone with that notion. "We left our 89-year-old great-grandmother at home. She wanted to stay there so she can vote as many times as she can."
Cheyenne Marquez goes to school at East High, but she, too, came to Murray to support Archuleta. "He's so amazing. He smiles and his eyes brighten up my day."
After the show, a hush fell over the crowd as voting began and cheering stopped.
The Murray event wasn't the only one in Archuleta's honor. Neighborhood parties were planned. Local street parades were held.
At For Every Scrapbook stores in Draper and Lindon, anyone who wanted to make a scrapbook page for Archuleta was invited to come and make them. They will be compiled into a scrapbook and presented to him. The pages they have collected so far contain a variety of messages everything from "Your music moves me" to "Marry me David" to "You are an example to all people that dreams are possible."
"What's cool," said Lori Russell, who was at the Draper store with her daughters to make pages, "is that he saw it and he went for his dream." (The scrapbooking continues today until 6 p.m. for anyone else who would like to send a message of appreciation to the singer.)
It has been fun to watch how everyone has come together, said Kip Davis of Murray Police who is assigned to the high school. "It's definitely been crazy, though."
Colin Aeschbacher "lives down the road" from the Archuletas. It's been funny, he said, to see the carloads of screaming girls that drive by the house. "They come for David, but they have to settle for us," he joked.
Brett Hales, another neighbor and a spokesman for the family, said it "has been the greatest thing ever. He's just this little kid next door, but I told him back when he was 14 that someday his music and his influence would touch the entire world. I didn't really know what I was saying. But look at this. He's a phenomenal, phenomenal young man."
"We were proud of him before," Jennifer Horne added. "And we will be proud of him after no matter what happens."It's what Archu-LOVE-a is all about.
Contributing: Molly Bennett E-mail: email@example.com