On Saturday morning in downtown Raleigh, a man in a lawn chair perched three rows deep on Fayetteville Street turned to me and noted that "it didn't used to be this way." For the past few years, he'd arrived around the same time with three or so lawn chairs—one for himself, one for his wife and one for their daughter—and been able to nab a front-row seat for the region's premier parade. This year, though, he was several feet away from the blacktop. "It must be the population growth," he surmised.
Actually, it was Scotty McCreery, a Garner teenager who humbly rolled by on a float stocked with his high school pals a few hours later. Nearly 100,000 people waved "We Love You, Scotty" signs (the nominal punctuation is my own) and cheered as loudly for the American Idol champ as they did for Santa Claus. And it's hard to blame them. A soft-spoken fellow with an affable Randy Travis twang, McCreery seems every bit the kid next door who's lucked himself into fame. DPAC holds far fewer people than Raleigh's parade route, so if you want to see McCreery join four other young country singers to raise money for N.C. Children's Hospital, you better show up long before you used to. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show start at $50. —Grayson Currin