When he heard there was going to be a in his honor, Jeremy Rosado joked that he thought the only people who would show up were his parents and siblings.
But the one-time "American Idol" contestant and Valrico resident underestimated his fans. More than 1,500 people were on hand to see him perform at , 9847 East Adamo Dr., Tampa, on Saturday, March 24.
The day was made all the more special because it marked Rosado's 20th birthday, an occasion that didn't go unnoticed by the crowd, which honored him with a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday."
For his part, Rosado said he's been overwhelmed by the attention and during his tenure and after as a contestant on the "American Idol."
"It's been an experience I'll be forever grateful for and remember all my life," said Rosado as the crowd at Uncle Mike's applauded.
However, as anxious as they were to hear the Durant High graduate and student at Hillsborough Community College's Brandon campus speak of his experience on the national television show, they were even more anxious to see him perform.
Rosado didn't disappoint, singing several songs for the crowd, including a song with featured band Soul Circus Cowboys.
He then sat at a table and signed autographs for a long line of fans including 14-year-old Emalee Rivera.
"Oh, my gosh, he's amazing," said the Jennings Middle School student. "I've been following 'American Idol' since he's been on the show. He has an amazing voice. I wanted to cry when he was eliminated."
Four-year-old Christian Cuadrado of Brandon was also on hand to get Rosado's autograph. The little boy has spinal muscular atrophy and depends on a wheelchair. Rosado greeted the child with a hug and posed for photos.
"Jeremy is one special kid," said Uncle Mike's owner Mike Tolley. "It was a privilege to host his 'Welcome Back' party."
Master of ceremonies for the event, M.C. Sharpie, agreed.
"God has a plan for you," he told Rosado.
In addition to performing, Rosado regaled the crowd with tales about featuring judges Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler.
Rosado admitted that J-Lo was his favorite. He even tweeted to her from his party, a tweet she promptly retweeted.
The Valrico resident began singing at age 6, imitating Britney Spears for family and friends. He went on to sing in the Durant High School gospel choir.
This was the fifth time Rosado has auditioned for "American Idol," and said he was ecstatic to finally be chosen to perform on the national television program.
"It was just a great experience," he said, adding that all of the "American Idol" contestants developed a close relationship during the competition.
"I still keep in touch with them," he said. "They're like my family."
Rosado will return to the show to perform during "American Idol's" finale May 22-23.