Murray City, Utah: American Idol runner-up, David Archuleta’s hometown

As I wrote in my post about Blue Springs, Missouri, David Cook’s hometown, I wondered about these hometowns during the segment of American Idol where the contestants go back to visit where they are from. The places that are big enough to hold the crowds that gather to cheer on their hometown favorites always seem to be a mall or a football field–not the things that distinguish one town from another or draw travelers to them.

Even though David Archuleta didn’t win, here’s a Murray City post anyway. Its history, like Blue Springs’ history, tells the tale of settlers moving west. In Murray City, the first to show up were the Mormon pioneers, however, over time, the ethnic groups and religions have become quite diverse, partly because of the railroad. Murray City once had the largest ore smelter in the region.

Murray City is also similar to Blue Springs in its population count and its location to a large metropolitan area. Murray City is close to Salt Lake City.

So, what is there to do in Murray City besides troll around looking for David Archuleta hangouts? There is a lot to do if you live in Murray City, but it’s not set up for tourists that I can tell. Here’s what I found to do.

You can tour the Murray City Museum at the city hall to find out about the city’s history.

At the Heritage Center there are dances and various classes that you might be able to stop in as a visitor, but they are set up for town residents, I imagine.

The Murray Park Amphitheater offers performances through the Arts in the Park Series. Just like in Blue Springs, you can golf.

In my impression, Murray City is one of the places to live, and not necessarily to visit, unless you’re on the lookout for David Archuleta. Just remember, the guy is a person and not a tourist attraction.

Blue Springs, Missouri: David Cook, American Idol’s hometown

While watching American Idol’s tours of the top contestants’ hometowns, I noticed that each town has a way of looking like there’s nothing to see but a shopping mall, a stadium and either an elementary school or a high school. After Cook won American Idol last night, I thought, I bet some folks are going to drive through Blue Springs to see what it’s like to be where a million dollar winner grew up. What’s there exactly?

Blue Springs does have a history that predates Kansas City which is close enough for Blue Springs folks to claim the Kansas City Royals as something to be proud of. Settlers on their journey elsewhere –probably Kansas City–although, the real adventurous types kept heading west, stopped to get water from the spring fed by the Little Blue River. Some did stay in Blue Springs to put up a grist mill and a railroad station to help with trade to the area.

Trade means a small town. At least that’s the case with Blue Springs which, I would bet, struggles to be seen as more than suburban community of Kansas City. Look around the United States, and you’ll find many examples of what I’m talking about. Around Columbus, Ohio, I’d put Worthington and Upper Arlington in that category. From the description on Blue Spring’s Chamber of Commerce Web site, I’d say their demographics are similar as well. Sure, they are their own towns, but if you drive from where I live in Columbus to either of them, there’s non-stop residential areas and commercial property connecting us.

Still, Blue Springs does have its own identity. If I were going, I’d head to the Dillingham-Lewis Museum of the Blue Springs Historical Society. Even though it serves mostly as an archival library, it is a significant house in Blue Springs and gives a glimpse of life well before David Cook had confetti rain down on him.

Blue Springs also has a large number of parks. Head to Burrus Old Mill Park, one of the oldest and where the town was originally located before it moved closer to the railroad station. It’s a basic park with lots of trees and picnic areas with barbecue pits. There is also a free skate park.

Close by in Lee’s Summit, is Missouri Town, a living history village museum of buildings that replicate the period of the 1820s to 1860s.

What else is there to do in Blue Springs? You can golf.

Also, if you go, don’t smoke in these places. The smoking ordinance went into effect May 1, 2008.

Disney’s upcoming attraction to simulate “American Idol” experience

Disney brainstormers know how much Americans love “American Idol,” and the mouse-eared corporation believes they’ve got a fantastic idea for an attraction they plan to open in late 2008: Disney’s own version of the popular show. In an article from the Associated Press, Disney Parks chairman Jay Rasulo touts the as-yet-to-be-named attraction: “Our goal is to try to recreate the excitement of those 24 people who show up on that ‘American Idol’ stage. We believe many, many viewers want to know exactly how that feels, and we’re going to try to reproduce that feeling for them.”

Rasulo expects around six to eight shows per day, with contestants over the age of 14 auditioning for a Disney casting producer. If chosen, they’ll get their hair and make-up touched up by a stylist and receive tips from a voice coach before heading on stage in front of a live audience.

I don’t watch American Idol and I can’t sing, but seriously? This sounds like fun.

Celebrity Travel Cut-Ups: Paula Abdul

As if news that a celebrity has once again demanded services and privileges above and beyond that of the ordinary person or passenger comes as a surprise to anyone I bring you the latest in celebrity travel temper-tantrums: Paula Abdul. The stunt that Ms. Abdul tried to pull with Southwest airlines is little of a shocker to me as I’ve dealt with the American Idol judge/diva on a couple of occasions myself. In any case it is said that she recently tried to use her celebrity status to cut in front of all the other passengers at the gate in San Jose for a flight headed to Burbank. EURweb noted Southwest’s boarding policy best, but for those who have not flown with the low-cost budget airlines it’s basically a first-come first serve basis.

Paula apparently bypassed the long line of customers waiting to board, headed to the ticket agent and demanded special treatment. The funny part about it all if what was witnessed and reported by one passenger is true, someone supposedly told Ms. Paula, “You’re no Sanjaya! You have to board like everyone else.” Hearing that makes me wonder if the young boyish Sanjaya had shown up with his pony-hawk and tried breezing to the front of the line, if that same passenger would have let him cut? Hmm… It also makes me stop to think why Paula didn’t get a first-class ticket with some other carrier and whether I would have let the star scoot ahead? Then I wonder who is worthy of stepping two spots in front of me? Sadly, no one seems to come to mind.

What celebrity would you let cut in front of you?