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There are fans, but also fanatics

POSTED: May 31, 2008 5:00 a.m.

About 12 years ago, I was the manager of a hotel in Hiawassee. It was located right next to the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds and most of the country music acts appearing there would stay at our place.

One of them was Billy Ray Cyrus.

Typically, the music acts would come in during the middle of the night and would check into the hotel and often would leave at the time they went to the venue to get ready for the show.

Billy Ray stayed in a little suite and, while there, enjoyed a cup of coffee and half of a hamburger.

A woman came in and was looking for a room. Someone at the desk mentioned the Cyrus room and the woman immediately offered to take it.

As it turns out, this woman was the biggest Billy Ray Cyrus fan in Georgia. She had a van with an autograph and a likeness of Billy Ray in vinyl, mullet and all.

Unknown to me, she went up and convinced the housekeeper not to make up the room and checked in just as it was.

The next morning, she left $50 to pay for the sheets, towel and coffee cup she secretly removed.

She also took the half-consumed coffee and hamburger.

What do you do with a half-eaten hamburger left by a country star? Do you take it home and put it in the deep freezer and pull it out to show your friends?

What do you do with the towel that Billy Ray used to dislodge any excess water from the mullet?

Whatever you do, this woman took it home and hopefully enjoyed it.

Move ahead to this year. Billy Ray is not quite the star he once was. His daughter, Miley Cyrus, is the hottest thing since sliced bread.

Miley plays the role of Hannah Montana in the popular Disney Channel TV show of the same name.

She has been touring the country in a Hannah Montana tour. She does half the concert as Hannah Montana and the other half as Miley Cyrus.

Folks have been shelling out big bucks to pay for their little pre-teen darlings to go to the show. There have been published stories of folks paying thousands of dollars for tickets to see the show. Others have driven to other places, like Memphis, to see Hannah/Miley in person.

However, a story this week really caught my eye.

It seems this woman in Texas, Priscilla Cebellos, stooped to one of the lowest things I’ve heard of in a long time to help her daughter, 6, win a contest for a trip to see Hannah Montana.

The contest, sponsored by an outfit called Club Libby Lu, included writing an essay. The essay written for the little girl began with a very moving, "My daddy died this year in Iraq."

That was a great big lie.

Turns out, the child’s daddy is not in the military, much less in Iraq.

The mother later admitted it to the sponsors.

"We did the essay and that’s what we did to win," the mother said in an interview with Dallas TV station KDFW. "We did whatever we could do to win."

I thought things were bad when a woman would steal a country star’s half-eaten hamburger. If they ever build a Hall of Shame, Priscilla Cebellos deserves a prominent place.

Harris Blackwood is community editor of The Times. His columns appear Wednesdays in the print edition only and Sundays.



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