‘American Idol’ rocker James Durbin returns home for Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk concert

"American Idol" rocker James Durbin during a homecoming concert at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
(Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk)
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

A crowd of 30,000 fans descended on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk on Saturday for the homecoming of “American Idol” rocker and native son James Durbin, who stuck around after a free concert to sign autographs, pose for photos and jump on some rides.

Photos: “Idol” singer James Durbin at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

The Santa Cruz High School marching band led a “Durbin Day” procession from downtown to the waterfront amusement park, where police estimated the concert crowd was 50% larger than expected.

The homecoming and concert by the fallen “Idol,” which is unlikely to air on the reality show, was briefly canceled after Durbin was voted off as a contestant last week before organizers resurrected the event.

After the beachfront concert, which included a rousing rendition of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” Durbin rode the the 1911 Looff Carousel, 1924 Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster and the 1961 Cave Train dark ride with fans, friends and family.

Personally, I was confounded when America voted Pia Toscanooff “Idol” back in early April. I lost all hope in humanity and vowed off the show forever when voters sent home Durbin last week. But then again, I never understood why the judges saved Casey Abrams so early in the season.