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Normal PD says the Leah Marlene concert required lots of preparation and coordination in little time

Police officers walk alongside a convertible
Emily Bollinger
Normal Police officers walk alongside a convertible during the parade for Leah Marlene in Uptown Normal on Tuesday, May 17, 2022.

Town officials in Normal had less than two days to stage a huge made-for-TV parade and concert for Leah Marlene after she became an "American Idol" finalist.

Normal Police Chief Steve Petrilli said town staff learned of Marlene's homecoming plans late last week on the condition she makes the final three. When Marlene made it to the talent show’s top three on Sunday night, town staff had to spring into action.

Petrilli said the event ran smoothly, largely because Leah Marlene's fans were so well behaved in great spirits.

“They understand. Everybody did the advanced security measures. Private security was doing some wanding and bag checks and things like that at the entrances,” Petrilli said. “Everybody was very respectful, very patient and it ended up being a great event.”

Petrilli said preparation for the event required plenty of coordination involving various town departments, including police, fire, administration, cultural arts, parks and recreation, public works and communications.

Normal PD relied on officer overtime and mutual aid to staff the parade and concert. He said the department has between eight and 12 officers providing security at the event, along with help from Bloomington police and a K-9 officer from Peoria.

Petrilli said the event could serve as a trial run if Marlene makes a return trip after the "American Idol" finale on Sunday. “That’s already on our radar that if she was to continue to advance through this process that ultimately the American Idol, she may be back to do another concert that at that point would probably be even bigger,” Petrilli said.

Petrilli said there are no official estimates, but he said the crowd was likely several thousand.

Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.