In July of 2003, Wachovia Bank, N.A., was one of America’s leading customer service banks and the largest retail bank on the East Coast. They opened two Manhattan retail financial centers on July 28th in Rockefeller Plaza and at Madison Avenue & 45th. The event included an official welcome from New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and American Idol celebrity Clay Aiken who, as a native of North Carolina, was invited to assist in the formal ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Wachovia’s Manhattan financial center grand-opening festivities were made more exciting by a surprise announcement from Clay Aiken. He announced that he would like to open the first official account in the name of his new Bubel/Aiken Foundation which he had just started. Clay stated that he was a long-time Wachovia customer and was pleased that now he would be able to find an ATM to use when he visited New York. Jim Fitzgerald, the regional president of Wachovia, announced that Wachovia was donating $10,000 to the Bubel/Aiken Foundation.
Mayor Bloomberg and Clay joined with the executives of Wachovia in a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Rockefeller Plaza. The Mayor teased Clay by showing a fan sign that said “Clay Aiken for Mayor” and said that he would support Clay at the end of his tour as mayor. There was a larger than expected crowd at the ceremony as many of Clay’s fans attended in hopes of seeing him.
Clay also attended the branch opening at 45th and Madison. Some workers at the bank sang “Amazing Grace” to Clay and according to those in attendance, it was beautiful and moving. The singers asked Clay to sing so he sang a verse or two of “This Is The Night.” It was an exciting time for the employees who were opening a new facility and hosting a new musical star.
Clay was in the middle of the American Idol tour when he made this visit to New York. The night before, he had been performing in Philadelphia and after the ceremonies in New York, Clay had to hurry to Washington DC for a concert that same night.
The following video shows Clay at the branch of the bank. It shows the two young ladies who sang for him and also a bit of Clay singing This Is The Night.