BEMUS POINT - After she'd been announced the winner of Chautauqua Lake Idol, Samantha DeJesus only had a few minutes on the Floating Stage to enjoy the moment.
While she was being hugged by judges and fellow contestants and interviewed by local media, a bolt of lightning lit up the sky and was almost immediately followed by a crack of thunder. All on the stage scattered to shore, where the competition's eighth champion was mobbed - in the sudden rain - by friends and family waiting to shower her with congratulations amid the downpour.
The schedule for the competition's finale was altered during the evening to contest with the oncoming thunderstorm, and the hastening of events led to fortuitous timing of the show ending just before the skies opened.
Samantha DeJesus of Portland sings ‘‘Jar of Hearts’’ by Christina Perri on Monday night on the Floating Stage in Bemus Point. DeJesus was named the eighth Chautauqua Lake Idol by judges at the end of the night’s competition. For more photos, visit cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photos by Dave Emke
Samantha DeJesus and Jon Osterdahl, Chautauqua Lake Idol finalists, share a kiss shortly after DeJesus was named the competition’s winner Monday night. Ashlie Sperry, the event’s third finalist, is seen applauding in the background.
P-J photos by Dave Emke
Each of the three finalists - DeJesus, Jon Osterdahl of Jamestown and Ashlie Sperry of Jamestown - sang one song of their own choosing and one song chosen for them by the event's judges.
DeJesus performed ''Jar of Hearts'' by Christina Perri as her choice and sang ''Foolish Games'' by Jewel as the judges' choice. She said afterward that she was confident in both performances.
''I really like that song and thought I could put a lot of emotion into it,'' she said of the Jewel song.
Each of the other finalists also received positive feedback from the judges for their performances during the finale. Sperry performed ''Wind Beneath My Wings'' by Bette Midler as her personal choice and sang ''The Weight'' by Aretha Franklin as the judges' choices, while Osterdahl sang ''Not Broken'' by the Goo Goo Dolls as his choice and ''Apologize'' by OneRepublic as the judges' choice.
The finale event also included special performances by 2007 Chautauqua Lake Idol winner Ben Blood and 2004 Chautauqua Lake Idol finalist Angelo Giuffre. Joe Caprino, winner of the Italian Fisherman's ''Italian Idol'' competition, also sang. The 11 high school students who performed throughout the summer as part of the special Junior Idol Showcase also performed a number, singing ''Lean On Me'' in the style of the hit television show ''Glee.'' And as the judges were tabulating their votes, a show was put on by AGP Records recording artist Brielle.
But at the end of the night, as the three finalists stood holding hands awaiting to learn which would be named the Chautauqua Lake Idol, there was no way for anyone in the audience - or, other than those involved in the judging, on the stage - to know which would be called.
''I was very shocked,'' DeJesus said of the feeling she had when her name was announced. ''At this point, in the top three, everyone's a winner - but it's kind of cool to hear my name called.''
When her name was called, DeJesus joined Chautauqua Lake Idol history. She is the eighth winner of the competition, following Susan Waite, Marla Harris, Lauren Cecchini, Ben Blood, Billy Thomas, Shawn Wilder and Marc Nupp. She is the first female winner since Cecchini in 2006.
Though DeJesus' time on the Floating Stage after the win announcement Monday night was brief, she will be reacquainted with the stage again soon. As part of her prize package for winning for Idol competition, she will perform on the stage as part of the Bemus Bay Pops show on Labor Day Weekend.
''I am excited, and I think it's going to be a lot of fun,'' she said. ''I love performing, and (Idol) has really helped me come out of my shell.''
For her win, DeJesus also takes home a weekend trip to Cleveland; gift certificates from Little Caesars Pizza, Moran's Floor and Ashley Furniture Store, The Amish Buggy, Designer Pools, and Jamestown Mattress Company; and prizes from Jon Elder Photography, RS Motors, the Italian Fisherman and Friendly's.
DeJesus, who has auditioned for ''American Idol'' in the past, said that she is hopeful that her win in Chautauqua Lake Idol will help propel her further into a career in performing.
''When I auditioned (for 'American Idol') they told me to perform in front of as many venues as possible, for anyone and everyone that would listen,'' she said. ''I think this will help me a lot, because it has given me a real feel for the real deal.''