Local 'American Idol' contestant feted

By Evan Pajer - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Fri., Feb. 15, 2013
Ashlee Feliciano's mother, Hope, and father, Cesar, watch the 'American Idol' broadcast on Feb. 13. Photos by Evan Pajer.
Ashlee Feliciano's mother, Hope, and father, Cesar, watch the 'American Idol' broadcast on Feb. 13. Photos by Evan Pajer.

In January, Ashlee Feliciano found out that her audition for Fox’s “American Idol” television show was successful and that she would be going to Hollywood to continue in the competition. Nearly a month later, on Feb. 13, Ashlee's family gathered at a table in the banquet hall of Marco Polo Ristorante in East Hartford, along with members of the East Hartford Chamber of Commerce and Mayor Marcia Leclerc, to cheer Ashlee on.

The Chamber of Commerce and Pratt and Whitney sponsored the two-night event, which filled the banquet hall with residents who attended in support of Ashlee.

Ashlee's father, Cesar Feliciano, said that she has always wanted to be a singer. Cesar said that Ashlee took a year off from Southeastern University in Florida, where she is pursuing a degree in music education, to audition for the show. “We helped her with the paperwork, but it was her idea and her dream,” Cesar said.

Cesar said that he and his family were with Ashlee when she was told she had passed the initial audition. "It was kind of surreal," he said. "We always thought she was very talented, but this is very exciting."

Cesar and his wife, Hope, took Ashlee to her first audition in New York, where she eventually preformed on camera before the judges. "It's such a long process before you get to the judges," he said. "There are a lot of sub-cuts before you get there."

Although many of the contestants on the show brought their families to Hollywood, Hope said she chose not to go due to her four foster children, who she described as “medically complex.” "It's been quite a ride," Hope said. "Very exciting, unbelievable, because there's thousands of people who audition." Hope said that the audition was an exciting time for her family. "Our whole family was with her when she auditioned. We met the judges, and that's when we learned we were going to Hollywood," she said. Hope said that her family was featured in an interview done by the show at their home in East Hartford.

"It's a very prideful moment for the town," Leclerc said. "We'll be following this as it goes on." Leclerc said that although she only watched the show occasionally, she has been following the show closely since Ashlee appeared on it.

Although the Feb. 13 broadcast of the show made Ashlee's chances at advancing seem strong, she was eliminated on the show's Feb. 14 broadcast during the group round.

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