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updated: 11/21/2011 9:33 AM

Haley Reinhart helps switch on Wheeling holiday lights

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  • Wheeling Village President Judy Abruscato and "American Idol" finalist Haley Reinhart flip the switch to light up the Christmas lights Sunday evening at Friendship Park in Wheeling. Haley Reinhart was accompanied by fellow "American Idol" contestant Casey Abrams.

      Wheeling Village President Judy Abruscato and "American Idol" finalist Haley Reinhart flip the switch to light up the Christmas lights Sunday evening at Friendship Park in Wheeling. Haley Reinhart was accompanied by fellow "American Idol" contestant Casey Abrams.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Wheeling native and "American Idol" finalist Haley Reinhart greets fans Sunday evening after flipping the switch to light up the Christmas lights at Friendship Park in Wheeling.

      Wheeling native and "American Idol" finalist Haley Reinhart greets fans Sunday evening after flipping the switch to light up the Christmas lights at Friendship Park in Wheeling.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Mr. and Mrs. Claus visit the Christmas lighting celebration Sunday evening at Friendship Park in Wheeling.

      Mr. and Mrs. Claus visit the Christmas lighting celebration Sunday evening at Friendship Park in Wheeling.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Wheeling Village President Judy Abruscato and "American Idol" finalist Haley Reinhart flip the switch to light up the Christmas lights Sunday evening at Friendship Park in Wheeling.

      Wheeling Village President Judy Abruscato and "American Idol" finalist Haley Reinhart flip the switch to light up the Christmas lights Sunday evening at Friendship Park in Wheeling.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

 

Wheeling kicked off the holiday season Sunday night with the help of "American Idol" finalist Haley Reinhart.

Hundreds of residents and fans came out to see the singer, meet Santa Claus, drink hot chocolate and get in the holiday spirit.

Reinhart, a Wheeling native, joined village President Judy Abruscato in flipping the switch on the holiday lights. She also thanked her hometown fans for their support over the past year.

"I hope you all have a happy holiday; there's nothing better than home," said Reinhart, who came in third on Season 10 of "American Idol."

"It was wonderful to have Haley back with us; we're so lucky," Abruscato said.

Fellow "Idol" competitor Casey Abrams, who grew up in Wilmette, joined Reinhart in Wheeling. They are on tour promoting their latest duet, a cover of "Baby, It's Cold Outside," which will be released Monday on iTunes and Amazon.

The pair will perform the holiday classic at 9 a.m. Monday on ABC 7 Chicago's "Windy City Live."

Although Reinhart and Abrams didn't sing at the lighting Sunday night, like they did Saturday night at the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival in Chicago, they did sign autographs and pose for photos with fans before heading to a private event.

"I'm so happy to be a part of this," Reinhart said. "It's wonderful to be back in Wheeling and be welcomed home like this."

The Wheeling High School band entertained the crowd with holiday tunes before the lighting ceremony, and Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived at the event last and stayed to listen to holiday wishes from local children.

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