EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - JAX, finalist in the national singing competition American Idol stepped onstage and shouted, "I love me my Bear Den!" The hometown audience went wild with enthusiasm, chanting, "We love JAX!" Hundreds of people turned out for the welcome parade, concert, and autograph session with East Brunswick's hometown hero JAX (Jackie Miskanic) who is the only female finalist of the remaining 4 American Idol contestants.
Members of East Brunswick's athletic teams, dance team, Blackhawk Lacrosse, Golden Bear Chargers, St. Bart's Buffalos, Girl Scouts, EBHS Chorus, EBHS marching Band, EB Fire Department, EB Rescue Squad, Veterans of Foreigh Wars Post #133, and Boy Scouts of America Troop #223 lead a procession from Heavenly Farms to the East Brunswick Community Arts Center’s outdoor amphitheater. The were joyously followed by a performance by the Beat Club of Funktion and the East Brunswick High School Chorus led by Jennifer Sengin, Mayor David Stahl introduced JAX who sang the Beatles' I Wanna Hold Your Hand, in the style that won over the American Idol judges.
JAX had a relaxed, personal style with the audience and truly acted as if she were coming home. Though she is still struggling with a strained throat - evidenced on this week's Idol version of New Jersey native Alicia Keyes' Empire State of Mind, JAX roused the audience with When I'm Gone, featured in the film Pitch Perfect.
The most touching part of today's event was Jax's performance her "hometown song" My Immortal by Evanescense. She dedicated this soulful ballad to her friend Jeff Szatkowski of Spotswood who, along with his girlfriend Nicole Surace of Milltown, was killed in a car crash on Fresh Ponds Road in East Brunswick in November, 2013. JAX said that she knew "that Jeff watching her from heaven" and that she knew her number 7 spot in the American Idol auditions had meaning. Jeff was #7 on the Spotswood Baseball team.