Like forever American Idol has rewarded the Top 3 contestants with a journey home complete with video of the homecoming the following week. Never has a No. 4 person received such accolades – until now.

True, Idol didn’t do it, it was the idea of the City of Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, but James Durbin, who was eliminated last week, received his homecoming on Saturday at the Boardwalk to the welcome of an estimated 30,000.

He sang, he answered questions, he met with kids, he even received a surfboard with his likeness on it. And at the end, according to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, he told the throng that he was born in Santa Cruz, raised in Santa Cruz and intends to live there the rest of his life.

This is the first time in the 10-year history of Idol that a fourth-place finisher has been granted such a homecoming. Good for Idol, good for Santa Cruz and most of all good for James Durbin.