Helena ‘ready’ for possible Bo visit

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Helena’s favorite rocker may come home Friday.

City officials confirmed Tuesday morning that American Idol contestant Bo Bice would return to Helena and the Birmingham area Friday – if he staves off elimination tonight.

&uot;It’s all contingent on him making the top three,&uot; city spokesperson Joy Childers said. &uot;Idol will bring the top three contestants to their hometowns on Friday.&uot;

If Bice returns Friday, he will only be in town for a few hours. He’ll spend much of that time in interviews with local media.

Bice would likely make an appearance at the city’s Buck Creek Festival that begins Friday night – but that doesn’t mean he will sing.

&uot;The rumor Bo is going to do a concert is bogus,&uot; Childers said.

&uot;Bo-mania&uot; is continuing to grow in Bice’s hometown. Helena children planned to hoist posters of support Tuesday afternoon (after presstime) at a city grocery store for passing motorists -just hours before Bice and the other three remaining finalists performed.

Childers has already received inquiries from south Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi about Bice’s possible appearance.

There were also overflow crowds last week at Incahoots, the Wednesday night hangout for Bice fans.

&uot;Last week, it was pandemonium,&uot; Childers said.

Helena Mayor Sonny Penhale commented on the local support recently on the city’s website.

&uot;It seems that the talk of the town, and indeed the country these days, is our own Bo Bice,&uot; Penhale said.

&uot;Residents have enjoyed the party atmosphere Bo has created here. Of course, we’ve known for a long time that Helena residents are always on the lookout for a reason to have a party, and can always be counted on for their support.&uot;

Bice is expected by most American Idol prognosticators to make the final three.

In fact, most Idol prognosticators predict Bice will battle Oklahoma’s Carrie Underwood in the finals.

According to an online poll by msnbc.com last week, 45 percent of people think Bice will win the entire competition.

That’s exactly the same percentage of people who think Underwood will win.

Vonzell Solomon (nine percent) and Anthony Federov (two percent) are distant challengers.

Seventy-seven percent of respondents on the website also predict Federov will be voted off tonight’s program that airs at 8 p.m. on FOX.

&uot;The oddsmakers in Vegas believe Anthony is going to go,&uot; Childers said.

Bice earned praise last week for singing &uot;Stand By Me&uot; by Ben E. King and &uot;Heaven&uot; by Los Lonely Boys.

&uot;I think you made some of the other contestants here look like amateurs,&uot; judge Simon Cowell said.

A press conference announcing details of Bice’s return will be held Thursday morning, assuming he makes the final three.

Childers said it is too early now to predict Bice’s itinerary, but promises &uot;Helena will be ready.&uot;

– Patrick Johnsto