Hordes Of Hopefuls Swamp Reliant Park For American Idol Auditions

See a few videos and many, many, many more photos from Friday's cattle call auditions in our slideshow.

Walking into the Reliant Stadium lot reminded Rocks Off of the livestock show we'd seen there months earlier. Thousands and thousands of people packed together in the parking lot by 5 a.m. this morning - we'd guess between 20,000 and 30,000 - to audition for American Idol, and thousands more filled in over the next few hours. People were fenced in like cattle in seven or eight different groups; once a group was full to capacity, the fence was secured and blocked off and another area was opened.

We patrolled the area in darkness as thousands of vocal chords woke up together. A few people brought guitars and formed campfire circles, singing Tom Petty and Alice In Chains. Some people who had been in the lot since 4 a.m. brought blankets and chairs and were dozing off, preserving their voices for another five hours.

Most of the Idol hopefuls we spoke with were between the ages of 15 and 17, and were accompanied by supportive and curiously energetic family members. Some of the parents seemed more excited than their vocally inclined children.

Tracie Dawson was one of the more memorable parents. She was impossible to miss, with a neon pink wig and a large pink sign that was at least double her height. From far away, we figured that she was the one who was auditioning, but as we approached, the photograph glued to the sign indicated otherwise.

"Oh no! I'm too old to audition! This sign is for my daughter, CeCe," she said.

The Dawsons flew out from a small town in Missouri to chase 15-year-old Stacy's dream, a dream she's had since she sang "Honey I'm Home" with Shania Twain onstage at a concert.

"We're from Kearny, which is a small town north of Kansas City," Tracie Dawson explained. "Because it's such a small town, we were able to put on a fundraiser on Facebook and get the whole town behind her."

Another parent, Susan Stuart, was fixing her daughter Kenzy's pinup-girl curly locks as we approached. "Hold on, let me fix her hair. Sorry, I'm such a stage mom," she laughed.

The pair drove to Houston from Arizona, where Kenzy attends school. The 19-year-old is majoring in a very specific vocal style at Arizona State University: German opera.

After she gave us a preview of her best opera voice, she explained that her interest all started from watching Fiddler On the Roof and other movies that "moms force you to watch."

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Allison Wagoner