POINT PLEASANT — Though novelist Thomas Wolfe famously wrote “You Can’t Go Home Again,” for Point Pleasant’s Chase Likens, he did just that on Saturday.
Several in the community turned out to welcome Likens home after he made it into the top 24 on American Idol. Despite not making it to the final, Likens’ fans welcomed him home in an attempt to acknowledged his accomplishment and make him feel like their hometown idol.
Organized by Hannah Workman and Brandy Barkey-Sweeney (who also hosted), the event was sponsored by many local businesses and media outlets and held at Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High School.
The line to get into the Wedge Auditorium at PPJ/SHS on Saturday was long and included Likens’ mom Jodi who said she was “so proud” of what her son had accomplished and what the future held in store for him. Upon entering the auditorium, fans were given signs as souvenirs and to hold when Chase made his appearance on stage which he did after a video montage of his accomplishments.
Fans gave Chase a standing ovation which seemed to humble the young man from Point Pleasant. He expressed his gratitude to all the fans and said he hoped to repay their support in any way he could. Though it was previously announced he couldn’t sing at the event due to contractual obligations, he surprised the audience, saying because of the special occasion he’d gotten the OK to sing a piece of the song he hoped to sing if he’d made it to the next round of American Idol. He then sang an acapella version of “I Just Called To Say I Love You,” by Stevie Wonder.
While on stage, Chase was honored by Mayor Brian Billings and City Clerk Amber Tatterson who represented the City of Point Pleasant. Billings and Tatterson presented Chase with a plaque and proclamation which declared March 10, 2012 as Chase Likens Day in Point Pleasant. Mason County Commissioner Rick Handley then followed suit, making a similar presentation but declaring March 10, 2012 as Chase Likens Day throughout Mason County. PPJ/SHS Principal William Cottrill also presented Chase with an award and announced his photo would hang on the school’s Wall of Fame. Finally, Barkey-Sweeney read a special proclamation from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s office which recognized Chase’s efforts on American Idol, particularly the positive way he represented West Virginia in the national spotlight.
Before leaving the stage, Chase recognized his family, including his mother, father, sister and grandmother, as well as God.
Chase then met with a long line of fans in the commons area of the PPJ/SHS, signing autographs and taking photos with residents young and old.
Next up for Chase is a return to Marshall University where he studies theatre. For those “Likens Lovers” who can’t get enough of their favorite American Idol, he will be performing in the MU theatre department’s production of “Pride and Prejudice” next month.