The massive warehouse that had only minutes before been packed with people and alive with sound was dim and vacant. Two giant screens that had projected twin, larger-than-life images of The X Factor semi-finalists were still and blank. In the emptiness of the evening, in the silence of Jerry Baker's warehouse on Enterprise Parkway in Wooster, Bill Pim processed his thoughts.
Pim is the stepfather of Josh Krajcik, the scruffy singer-songwriter, raised in Wooster, residing in Columbus, who took Simon Cowell by surprise during The X Factor USA auditions in late September. Since then, Krajcik, his family and friends have been on a wild ride as, week after week, Krajcik has moved through each elimination round to take him, to take all of us, to The X Factor results show on Thursday, Dec. 15, where the four semi-finalists (in no particular order), Melanie Amaro, Marcus Canty, Chris Rene and Josh Krajcik, were whittled down, purely by votes, to three. The final three.
"When you start thinking of this in the big picture of things," said Pim, "there were 250,000 people who auditioned for this. It's mind-boggling."
Pim said the whole experience has gained momentum, like a snowball hurtling downhill. Schools across the country have been voting for Krajcik. Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan have been rooting for Krajcik. Communities of people have manned the phones, voting for Josh Krajcik to emerge victorious, clutching a $5 million prize and a major recording contract.
"I got a message from a guy I went to high school with who lives in California," said Pim. "I hadn't heard from him in years. He said the whole town of Merced's voting for Josh."
So what was Pim feeling after it was revealed, to him, to Josh, and to the rest of the world, who would advance to the finale to compete, for the very last time, to be The X Factor USA's first ever champion?
"I'm feeling relief," said Pim, in what might be the understatement of the year. "So many things could go wrong. To get this far is amazing."
In the last five minutes of the show, after fans were kept on tenterhooks for nearly an hour, it was announced that the Krajcicians had done it again, that the voting had paid off, and that the bear-like burrito boy had moved on to compete in the final round of The X Factor.
But the show's not over yet. Pim said supporters need to vote like never before to ensure that Krajcik walks away the winner.
"The message I'm trying to give is let's bring this home. We're this close. Don't back out now."
For those just coming under the spell of Krajcik's magic, Pim invited them to jump on the bandwagon.
"This will never happen to this area again. It's a once in a lifetime thing. I hope people realize that."
Viewers have multiple options for voting on Wednesday, Dec. 21. They can call, text, Tweet and Facebook their votes.
"It's only one more week," said Pim. "One more night of staying up until 11:30 voting until your fingers are worn out, and then, you can relax and enjoy it."
He paused for a moment, then added, "This kid could win it all."
As Pim headed toward the door of the silent warehouse, perfectly suited for, say, a celebratory rock concert, he said Krajcik knows how hard his Ohio fans are pulling for him, and he's thrilled.
"He's very aware and appreciative of everything that's been done for him."
And the Pims are appreciative, too.
"We thank everybody," said Pim. "These people are carrying this kid. And us."
Tune in to the final episodes of The X Factor airing live on Wednesday, Dec. 21 from 8-9:30 p.m. for voting, and Thursday, Dec. 22 from 8-9 p.m. for the final results.
The X Factor voting information can be found at http://www.thexfactorusa.com/faq.