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Claremonters turn out in force for their 'Idol'

It was pandemonium in the Claremont Village as more than 100 people gathered to see local American Idol finalist Alejandro Aranda.

Mr. Aranda, who is from Pomona but frequently performed in the Village before his sudden stardom, has made it to the final round of the world-famous musical talent show, and locals from Claremont and Pomona were out in droves to welcome him to the Folk Music Center.

One of them was Josephine Rodriguez, 92, who was holding a sign that said, “We love the homie,” in reference to Mr. Aranda’s nickname, “The Humble Homie.” Ms. Rodriguez was holding a plate of beef tamales she wanted to give to the singer.

“I brought a couple of them,” she said. “I hope he takes them.”

Ms. Rodriguez’s daughter, Genevieve Peet, said her mother had asked to be taken to the Folk Music Center to see Mr. Aranda.

“This morning she said, ‘please bring me, please bring me,’” Ms. Peet said. “She just loves Alejandro.”

She remembers seeing him perform in the Village, along Yale Avenue in front of Wells Fargo. Even then, she recognized his talent.

“I remember thinking, ‘that guy is good,’” Ms. Peet said.

Some fans held signs showing support, including Pomona resident Lorraine Flores, who held up a glittery sign that said “We are Pomona proud of you, your music is the cure, Dr. Alejandro.”

“He’s just life changing,” Ms. Flores said. “I call him Dr. Alejandro, because he’s the cure.”

Claremont Police had Yale Avenue between Bonita and Second Street blocked off to accommodate the throngs of fans. After a few minutes of waiting in the sun, the crowd went wild as Alejandro arrived in a black Hummer limousine.

Mr. Aranda stepped out in a black and white shirt, jeans and sneakers, grinning shyly and waving to the screaming crowd. After an interview with ABC7’s Rob McMillan, Mr. Aranda stepped inside the Folk Music Center to record more material for the show.

But before that, he knelt down and graciously accepted Ms. Rodriguez’s tamales.

Claremonter Ben Harper later performed with Mr. Aranda in the Folk Music Center. This isn't the first time the two performed together—Mr. Harper appeared on the television show with Mr. Aranda in April when the duo performed Mr. Harper’s song, “There Will Be Light.”

The city of Pomona will be celebrating Mr. Aranda’s ascension to the finals with a parade later on Tuesday.

To see Mr. Aranda perform, watch the American Idol finale on ABC-7 beginning at 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 19.

Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com