SHOREHAM, NY — Just days after Carter Rubin, 15, a sophomore at Shoreham-Wading River High School, won the final round on "The Voice," an elated community is gearing up to welcome him home.
A drive-by parade is scheduled for Friday. Those participating are asked to meet at the Shoreham-Wading River High School parking lot at 4 p.m. Details will be posted on the Shoreham-Wading River Community Group's Facebook page.
Another event will be planned for Tuesday but details are still being outlined; information will be posted on the Wildcats Helping the Arts and Music, or WHAM, Facebook page or on the Shoreham-Wading River Community Group Facebook page.
"Let's welcome our star home with a proper parade!" organizers said.
Participants in the parade will include the Suffolk County Police Department, the Shoreham Fire Department, Suffok County Legislator Sarah Anker, the Shoreham Civic Organization and members of the Shoreham-Wading River community.
"Please pass the word and make this a great event for Carter and his family, to show him how proud we all are," organizers said.
Shoreham Wading River Central School District School Superintendent Gerard Poole and High School Principal Frank Pugliese, wearing giant Carter buttons, also created a YouTube video to congratulate Carter and welcome him home, singing their own version of "Hero," about their star student.
The school district also lauded Carter on making history by being named the youngest male winner ever.
“The Shoreham-Wading River community has watched Carter perform over the years on stage and we just knew he would do great things,” Poole said. “Carter has really brought light and joy to our school community for the holiday season.”
Hours after winning the finale on "The Voice", Carter spoke to Patch about his extraordinary journey and how it felt to be the youngest male winner the show has ever had.
Describing how he felt when host Carson Daly said his name, Carter said: "I am still in shock. I am still not fully comprehending it; it's insane. It's madness."
During the commercial break before the winner was announced, Carter said his coach Gwen Stefani shared words of wisdom and insight. "She said, 'Listen to me. No matter what, this is a moment. You have such a bright future. I'm so proud of everything you have accomplished.'"
Winning the competition was an honor for many different reasons, Carter said. "I want to inspire other young artists to follow their dreams now. You don't have to wait. Do what makes your heart happy."
Reflecting on his journey, Carter said he has been shaped in myriad ways by the months he's spent at "The Voice". "I went into this a boy and I am leaving a man. I've grown from this experience. It's matured me in so many ways." He also is proud of himself for having a dream and seeing it through, Carter said.
Carter was slated to return home to Long Island on Thursday. After his win, he hopes to continue on his musical path. "Gwen told me it's time for me to start writing music and I agree completely. I want to start writing songs and get in the studio to record them." Once the pandemic has passed, Carter hopes to begin performing to live audiences and kick off a tour. "That's my dream," he said.
His personal favorite song to sing on the show was "Rainbow Connection," a performance that melted hearts across the nation. "It moved Gwen to tears," he said.
Carter dedicated the song to his brother Jack, who has autism; he has spoken on "The Voice" about the close relationship they share and said seeing the world through his brother's eyes was a beautiful thing.
He FaceTimed his brother after the win, Carter said. "He was screaming, 'You won 'The Voice'!" Carter said. "He's been so proud and patient through all of this. I'm so proud of him."
Carter's mother Alonna said she had been emotional as she listened to her son doing press all day.
"It gets me every time," she said. "It's so amazing to watch him. This was his dream. He's loved this show for so long; he's been singing forever."
And for her son to achieve what he has during the coronavirus, at a time when "the world stopped," was even more extraordinary, Alonna said.
Both Carter and his mother thanked the community for their excitement and huge outpouring of support. The Shoreham-Wading River community, Alonna said, has made signs and banners, named cookies, lattes and donuts after Carter, sent videos, and voted again and again for her boy.
"I said to Carter, 'No matter what, the biggest part of music is touching people and you have done that. Remember that. If it's your goal in life to make people happy, you've done that.'"
Carter's talent and message of kindness was even more meaningful during the pandemic, when people needed something to be happy about, many agreed.
"I'm so honored. The world has paused, and people need music," Carter said. "Music can really heal and move people. And that's what i want to do, make others happy, inspire others to follow their dreams like I've followed mine. All I want to do is make people happy and bring people together. That's the biggest win."
In his hometown, fans were jubilant.
"Overjoyed is an understatement," said Colette Grosso. "Couldn't have been earned by a nicer person, with a heart of gold and an amazing family."
"OMG, Carter, we are so excited. Puddles of happiness and screams of joy," wrote Alisa McMorris, whose son Andrew — Andrew died when he was hit by a drunk driver while on a Scout hike — was a close friend of Carter's. She gave Carter a keychain with Andrew's fingerprint to keep close to him onstage.
"Andrew is flying high right there with you," she said. "Thank you for taking him with you."