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Family,friends and co-workers, waited for the judges final word Thursday night after Reed Grimm's last performance.

March 1, 2012: American Idol -- Reed Grimm's journey comes to a painful end

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In Thursday's American Idol elimination night, the audiences in Los Angeles and at Junior's Bar and Grill in River Falls were taken on an emotional ride that was filled with highs and lows right to the very end of the two-hour show. Local contestant Reed Grimm was voted off.

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He did not garner enough votes from the public to make the top 10, but even that was uncertain when he was in a group of three pulled out. None of the three made it through, but Grimm was left hanging and told to sit back down. The entire audience in L.A. booed at that point.

The group of family, friends and co-workers of nearly 50 at Junior's was left in dismay. However, hope is eternal, and they still felt he might earn one of three wild card slots determined by the judges.

It was not to be. They choose six of the remaining 15 to sing one last time for the judges.

They were selected one at a time, so the remaining ones were left hanging. Each sang in turn. When the judges were down to announcing who would perform last, you could see judge Steven Tyler former the letter "R" with his lips. The crowd at Junior's went wild when Tyler finally spilled out the words "Reed Grimm."

Grimm stripped down to his black T-shirt, took the microphone from Ryan Seacrest and offered of a full-stage, powerful version of Bill Withers' "Use Me."

It wasn't enough. The judges each commented in turn. Avid Idol watchers recognized the death knell when they said, "We wanted to see you one last time." Grimm was sent packing.

"I'm exhausted," said Debbie O'Keefe, Grimm's aunt. "I feel like I have run a marathon."

The nail-biting evening was even worse for Colleen Raye, who was in the audience in Los Angeles, with her sister, Janet Sparkman.

"It was like a roller-coaster ride," said Raye after she made it back to her hotel room. She was waiting for Grimm to call her.

All may not be lost. In less than an hour after the show, a Facebook page was started to draft Reed Grimm as a Saturday Night Life host. http://www.facebook.com/ReedGrimm4SNL

See next week's newspapers for more details and thoughts from people who know Grimm. An event is being planned in Ellsworth to welcome him home.

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