American Idol finalist returns to hero's welcome at Van Wezel

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SARASOTA, Fla -- American Idol fans of all ages came to the Van Wezel Thursday to see about a dozen finalists from last season.  But one in particular, Sam Woolf -- a recent graduate of Braden River High School -- was the top draw.

"This is my first tour and it's crazy, I never thought it would be like this," Woolf told ABC 7 backstage before the concert.

"It's awesome, I've always wanted to play at this venue, I came here 4 years ago for a show and I wondered if I'd ever get a chance to play here so it's nice, yeah," he said.

And just outside the venue, dozens of Sam's "Woolfpack" told us on the way in they couldn't wait to watch him sing--so we thought we'd bring him out before the show.

After screams and hugs, one of Sam's former classmates at Braden River said she recalls watching him sing years earlier.

"He was really talented, he won the sophomore year talent show, that's when I knew what a talent he was," said Victoria DeOliveria.

Current students from the Braden River Spyglass school's newspaper covered the concert.

"It's been really exciting, he's been singing at the talent shows and to see him get recognized is exciting for the community and the school," said aspiring journalist Katie Cafiero. 

Vice Mayor Susan Chapman gave Woolf a ceremonial key to the city of Sarasota. From here, the  American Idol "Live" tour moves on to Clearwater. After the national tour, Woolf plans to live in Nashville where he says he has a girlfriend waiting for him.