Teen pop sensation Justin Bieber’s quest for an evening of small town life in Elmira set some pre-teen hearts aflutter, but left a bad taste in the mouths of a number of youths who are now former fans.
According to a number of witnesses, Bieber visited Elmira’s Lion’s Park on the evening of Aug. 23 to take in the soccer match between the Woolwich U16 girl’s team and his hometown of Stratford, but when approached by fans –members of the soccer team and spectators – the teen heartthrob told fans to go away and leave him alone.
Ariss resident Tanya Rempel’s daughter was playing in a U12 game on an adjacent field when she heard that the pint-sized pop idol was at the park. She and a few others posted updates to their Facebook profiles, and by the end of the game, quite a crowd had gathered to get a glimpse of the singer.
“We didn’t tell the girls that he was there until after the game because we knew they would get distracted,” she said with a laugh. “They all went running over to him but they didn’t get too close. He said he wasn’t going to sign autographs because he was on a day off.”
Emily Chapman, 13, was at the field to watch her little sister play.
“When I heard he was there, I started walking over to him and he told me and my friends to go away,” said the Elmira teen. “I thought it was really rude. I used to be a big fan before this happened.”
The girls left the scene deflated by the encounter.
“It was a bit disappointing that he wouldn’t be more polite to his fans,” said Rempel. “I know it must be tough being in the spotlight, but he chose that life.”
In response to the encounter, a group of Elmira youths has created a Facebook group entitled ‘Next time Justin Bieber comes to Elmira I’ll knock him out.’ The group had gathered 71 members at press time.
For Nicole Merlihan, 10, the fact that he spoke to her at all was enough to make her heart skip a beat.
“As soon as we saw him, we were all freaking out and stuff,” she enthused. “When he was about to leave the field I screamed ‘I love you Justin! I can’t wait to see you at the concert!’ and he said ‘Hope to see you there. Keep loving life.’ Then we all chased the car. I am a huge fan of his.”
A spokesperson for Bieber said that he was in town to watch his friends’ sister’s soccer game and that he didn’t want the attention to be focused on his being there, adding that when in public at work-related events like concerts or radio stations, he goes above and beyond his duty and is very thankful to his fans for their support.
The entertainer, who took home four surfboard trophies, for Male Artist, Album, Breakout Star and Summer Music Star at the 2010 Teen Choice Awards just last week, posted the update, “Felt like a regular kid today … felt great. Nothing beats home,” to his Twitter account following the soccer match in Elmira.