Grace Kinstler revered as 'hometown hero' despite 'American Idol' finale

CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. -- First, there was shock, but immediately after was just a strong sense of pride for Grace Kinstler and all she's accomplished so far.

Not only that, but people left a Crystal Lake "American Idol" watch party Sunday night still with high hopes for her bright future, adding that they will support her all the way.

In the first elimination round of the "American Idol" season finale, they cheered, chanted and held their breath as they tightly gripped each other's hands.

RELATED: And the new 'American Idol' is....

"I'm so sad that she didn't make it. I was so hoping that she would," said Colleen Calvey.

Despite the disappointment, there was still resounding admiration in the crowd.

"She is a star, and so incredibly talented and so humble. We adore her," added Donna Morreal.

"She has made the community so proud. She is just a wonderful person," said Patty Duggan.

'She had an energy and a spark': HS choir teacher recalls American Idol star Grace Kinstler


EMBED More News Videos

Kim Scherrer, Grace Kinstler's mentor and former choir teacher, recalls what the American Idol star was like back in high school.



This community will forever be in awe of their "Amazing Grace."

"It hits hard to like home basically because she's so close to us," said Lexi Vesneske.

"I'm so excited that someone from our town is inspiring people too, to say, 'You can share your gift too,'" said Erin McElroy.

Hundreds packed Crystal Lake's Hickory Hall for a special Star 105.5 watch party of the three-hour "American Idol" finale, tuning in just for their hometown sweetheart.

Grace Kinstler talks about 'American Idol' experience ahead of new single release

"I got goosebumps when she just sang that just now," Vesneske said.

Fans said the 20-year-old Crystal Lake Central High School alum and Lakewood native left them stunned after every powerhouse performance.

"Every time I hear her, I just get chills. So emotional when she sings," said Erin Wagner.

"I think her true gift is to sing and bring her music to the world, and I just get goosebumps thinking about her vocal talent," McElroy added.

But beyond her talents is her ability to encourage and inspire.

"The way she's just so positive about life...the way she's humble, she's kind," said Duggan.

WATCH | Crystal Lake, Illinois buzzing with 'American Idol' fever

EMBED More News Videos

Crystal Lake was buzzing ahead of a big homecoming celebration for 'American Idol' star Grace Kinstler.



Those qualities have already made her the true winner in her hometown.

"She will always be our idol and she's our hometown hero," Wagner said.

"She's going to go far. She is such a talent and she's so moving," added Paula Calvey.

WATCH | Hundreds attend Grace Kinstler's homecoming celebration in Crystal Lake
EMBED More News Videos

"American Idol" finalist Grace Kinstler returned home to Illinois for a special celebration in her honor in Crystal Lake and Lakewood.



"This just shows that she has so much talent but she can grow so much more too, and I can't wait to see where we goes from here," Colleen said.

Kinstler may not have won this show's contest but she has certainly won over her hometown.

Everyone is certain of the big career ahead of her, just given the amount lives she's touched in such a short time.
Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.