Rihanna, clearly, does not make excuses.
The Barbadian superstar barely acknowledged her tardiness when took the stage at Barrington High School moments ago – despite being more than four hours and 30 minutes late for her much-anticipated visit. Her fans, nearly despondent minutes earlier, greeted her with wild applause and Beatlemania-type screaming.
“Thank you guys for coming and waiting,” the Barbadian signer said, before paying tribute to the school’s charitable works.
Sixteen minutes and roughly a dozen smiling pictures later, RiRi was gone and her late arrival forgotten by a starstruck crowd.
It was hard to believe that only minutes earlier she was the cause of quite possibly the most angst-ridden moment in Barrington High School history.
The overwhelmingly female crowd had been patient in waiting for hours for her arrival after the school won a visit from the star. Teens have been chatting on their phones, grabbing snacks and braiding each other’s hair. Many have been at the school since the doors opened at noon.
Rihanna was originally supposed to start her visit at 1 p.m.; on Thursday evening, the school announced that had been pushed back to 2 p.m. As of 5 p.m., she still wasn’t at the school.
“It’s one thing to be fashionably late. This is just rude. Our lives don’t revolve around a pop star,” said junior Patricia Halle, who nicknamed the afternoon “the survive Rihanna event.”
“Our school worked hard to win this. She should be more respectful,” Halle said.
Her friend Cassie Mullay said she was thinking about leaving, having waited since 1 p.m. “It’s so rude.”
Seventh-grader Jaki Mora said: “Rihanna is pathetic. She shouldn’t be making us wait for her.”
At 4:22 p.m., Rihanna tweeted a picture from inside her vehicle and wrote, “This Chicago traffic is not working.”
Principal Steve McWilliams said he had spoken to Rihanna earlier in the day, who apologized for being late and sent more tickets for her United Center show to be handed out to students.
The DJ – said to be the pop star’s personal DJ, whom she sent ahead of her to entertain the crowd as they wait – is playing music while photos of the pop star are being shown on a big screen.
As the wait for Rihanna continued, the DJ hosted an impromptu dance contest, with a pledge that the winner will get to go backstage at her United Center concert tonight.
The school won the visit with Rihanna – hours before she’s due to perform at the United Center – after winning a contest she sponsored. She invited schools to produce videos set her “Diamonds” single that would highlight charitable work. Barrington High’s video, produced by students of the BHS-TV class, is a montage of shots that shine a light on several different philanthropic initiatives in which the school participates. Among many other service projects both local and nationwide, the school has assisted tornado victims in Joplin, Mo., and Natives American who live on a reservation in South Dakota.
“With a whole lot of polishing and collaboration, we can all shine bright like a diamond,” says the narrator of the video.
Rihanna’s website said the contest was intended to honor the “most creative and inspiring lipdub or video that includes a giving back to your community (and world!) message.”
About 2,500 people assembled in the gymnasium of the northwest suburban high school awaiting Rihanna’s arrival.
A school official announced that someone in the crowd will win an autographed Rihanna CD and tickets to her show tonight at the United Center.
By Susan Berger and Stacy St. Clair
Copyright © 2013 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC