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Gokey knows how to please 'em

Some wait for hours to greet 'Idol' star

June 7, 2010

The bright lights of Wisconsin Vision are nothing like the ones in Hollywood, but Danny Gokey still put on an excellent show during a stop at the Elm Grove business.

Gokey, who finished third on the 2009 installment of reality-TV juggernaut "American Idol" and is promoting his country-tinged album, "My Best Days," arrived at the eyeglass store on Bluemound Road last week behind a pack of police motorcycles. Waiting for him were fans of all ages with a still-strong appetite for Milwaukee's Idol.

If Sandy and Michelle Kuinn, the Brookfield mother-daughter pair who arrived at noon to be first in line, are any indication of Gokey's popularity, he just might transform his burst of fame into long-term viability.

"I love Danny Gokey," Sandy Kuinn said. "I've been chasing him around the city for a year trying to see him."

Joan and Rachel Lindner of Milwaukee arrived with ample time to spare before the event's 4 p.m. start, too. As she walked toward the line, Rachel Linder observed that the crowd at the June 2 stop was nothing compared to what she has seen at his other appearances.

It was early, though.

Rain doesn't dampen spirits

By 4:20, the line wrapped around the back of the building despite a light rain. In it were people young and old, a fan in a "Team Gokey" shirt and a group of schoolgirls in green plaid skirts and white collared shirts. People arrived on their bikes together. There was a popcorn vendor and a few balloons. The event radiated wholesomeness.

Gokey's appearance came as part of a two-year contract with Wisconsin Vision that finalized earlier this year. Gokey makes in-store appearances and participates in the company's various advertising campaigns. He also gets up to 60 pairs of glasses over the life of the deal.

That's not the most glamorous arrangement, but "Idol" isn't always glamorous either. Just look at the dance numbers and music videos contestants participate in on the show. It's about appealing to as many people as possible. Based upon the crowd, Gokey has cast a wide net.

A true crowd-pleaser

And though "Idol" and its contestants are easy fodder for critics, Gokey deserves credit. During his visit here, he was warm, appreciative and catered to the specific needs of each person who approached him.

He autographed an orange glasses case. He left a voice mail for the friend of a fan holding a "Go, Gokey, Go" sign. To take a picture with a small group of children, he squatted down to their level.

After taking her turn with Gokey, Sandy Kuinn was euphoric: "This really is my best day," she said to him as she stepped away from the table.

Afterward, her glow remained.

"It was amazing," she said. "I don't want to leave."

Almost certainly, Gokey feels the same way about his new place in the world, and only time will reveal whether he is a placeholder or a fixture.

In Elm Grove, at least, fans seem to fancy him the latter.

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