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'Idol' Contestant Returns Home [VIDEO]

The South Kingstown native touches down at T.F. Green Airport shortly after 11 p.m. on Tuesday.


WARWICK – South Kingstown’s Erika Van Pelt greeted a spirited group of 50 fans awaiting her arrival back to Rhode Island simply, but emotionally. Van Pelt was returning from Los Angeles, after being eliminated from "American Idol" during Thursday night's show.

“This is like the nicest homecoming ever,” she said, before spending the next half-hour giving out hugs and autographs, and posing for photos.

The group consisted mostly of close friends and family, including mom Leslie and dad Dirk, sister Sarah and brother Collin, and her stepparents. They awaited her with handout flyers and signs, with sayings like “Blonde or brunette, America ain’t seen nothing yet.”

She came off the flight with just a single bag, and a limo from A-Formal of Fall River was scheduled to whisk her and seven others back to that city, where she now lives. Family members said she told them she was coming back to Rhode Island about two days ago.

The crowd swelled at times, as plenty of onlookers and people coming off flights stopped to pose for and take photos with Van Pelt. A member of the flight staff also asked her for a photo.

Van Pelt is scheduled to be on the Anderson Cooper talk show and The Tonight Show With Jay Leno later this week. Also, because she advanced far enough in Idol, she will be on the summer tour.

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