Phillips crowd may swamp Leesburg

FITZGERALD, GA (WALB) - Up to 25,000 people are expected to pack Leesburg Saturday for the parade and concert. Where to put all the vehicles could be the biggest problem.

There were 3,000 here for Luke Bryan, 7,000 when they held graduation, but the estimated 25,000 people expected this weekend have organizers worried about everything coming off without a hitch.

At Rubo's in Leesburg, along Highway 19, welcome signs were going up for their hometown idol. "Well I just think it's important that we should welcome him back home," said Tyler Smith of Rubo's

The small town that struggles with school traffic is bracing for the thousands expected this weekend, when the national spotlight shines on Leesburg.

"It's going to be a big crowd probably bigger than we've ever seen here in Lee County," said Lee County Sheriff Reggie Rachals.

The parade is scheduled to begin at 2:30 along Main Street from Starksville to the High School but streets near the parade route will closed after lunch. The concert will begin at 3:00 with gates opening at 2:00. The High School parking lot won't hold all the vehicles. Law enforcement will allow parking on the street shoulders with caution.

"To where they got it off the right of way, off the roadway, that way no one comes along and clips on of their cars," Rachals said.

No coolers will be allowed inside the stadium, which is why organizers say there will be concessions and water on hand to deal with the heat. "We'll have people riding around with ATV's with water and all that stuff on it while they're standing in line."

All in all Leesburg feels they're ready. "We had a clean up a couple of weeks ago, not for Phillip Phillips but we were hoping the town was going to look good for him," said Mayor Jim Quinn.

To celebrate their home grown talent, who could be the next American Idol.

Lee County law enforcement is getting a lot of help. They've got the Dougherty County Sheriff's office and DCP on standby, along with the Georgia State Patrol who will also lend a hand.

Organizers suggest getting to Leesburg early if you want a good seat for the parade and concert. The parade kicks off at 2:30 with the concert beginning at 3:00.  Gates again at the stadium open at 2:00.