Thousands of fans lined Patton Avenue in Asheville on Saturday for the chance to cheer on the city's own Caleb Johnson, who is one of the top three finalists on the 2014 season of American Idol.
Johnson landed in Asheville on a private jet Friday afternoon at the Asheville Regional airport to mark the beginning of a long working weekend for the American Idol finalist. Idol producers scheduled several public appearances for the rising music star in order to tape footage for upcoming episodes of the show.
On Saturday, the crowd chanted Johnson's name as he waved fans from the back of a Chevy convertible as the car rolled toward The Orange Peel on Biltmore Avenue, where Mayor Esther Manheimer introduced Johnson to a sold out crowd and issued a proclamation declaring the May 10, 2014 Caleb Johnson Day and presented Johnson with they key to the city.
Johnson then performed a set of songs for the cheering crowd and even asked to snap a selfie with the fans, many of whom he knew by name.
Johnson said seeing all of his family, friends and hometown fans was exhilarating.
"Just getting to be back home in that element," Johnson said. "This is was what I was cutting my teeth on. This was taking me back to the beginning, you know."
Johnson's public appearances ended later Saturday night when Johnson and his local band performed in front of a packed house at the Emerald Lounge.
The singer said his homecoming trip was an experience that he won't soon forget.
"Just the amount of support, it's incredible," Johnson said. "Seriously, I will never ever forget this day, ever, until the day I die."
Johnson now heads back to Hollywood where he, Alex Preston and Jena Irene will compete in the semifinal round of American Idol on Wednesday.
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