'American Idol': Jersey Joins Forces for Jax as Final Four Homecomings Draw Thousands

Michael Becker/FOX via Getty Images
Top 4 contestants Nick Fradiani, Jax, Rayvon Owen and Clark Beckham backstage at FOX's "American Idol XIV" Top 4 Revealed on April 22, 2015 in Hollywood, California.

"They are freaking out crying and screaming and it’s ok! I’ll hug you!"

It's American Idol homecoming time!

The Jax Pack was out in full force in East Brunswick, New Jersey; Connecticut was overrun with Fradiani Fever for Nick Fradiani; thousands of fans rallied far and wide for Nashville's Clarke Beckham; and Rayvon Owen got an extra-special surprise: a visit by fellow Virginian and American Idol alum Elliott Yamin.

It was a boisterous and revelatory scene for Jax in Jersey, as the versatile vocalist was feted with a parade that began at East Brunswick's Heavenly Farms Park on Dunham's Corner Road and ended with a concert at Playhouse 22 Community Theater. There, she greeted fans with a short set which included a reprise of her audition song -- The Beatles' "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" and a preview of her homecoming week song, "My Immortal," by Evanescence.

Jax began her day in New York with appearances on Fox's Good Day New York and at the radio station 92.3 AMP FM, where she talked about what she missed the most about the Tri-State area -- mainly Dunkin' Donuts (East Brunswick not only provided her with a private supply, but a Dunkin' Donuts truck was on the scene for her arrival). She then headed out to visit her old stomping grounds at Hammerskjold Middle School to meet students, all who cheered on their Idol.

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"I got to see my old teachers, the auditorium where I used to do musical theater and I got to walk to the cafeteria.," Jax told Billboard. "There are a lot of old memories, painted with all kinds of beautiful things. All kinds of people-family, and fans and supporters came out. It was crazy."

The 18-year old was overwhelmed by the hometown support, she said.

"I did not expect any of this," she continued as she waved to fans peering into the press room. "There are people staring at the window now, and they need to understand that I am the same person I was when I left, and I feel a little guilty. They are freaking out crying and screaming and it's ok! I'll hug you! We'll go watch Netflix and eat nachos together, and we can be friends. This is insane. I can't believe everybody is so there for me. I love them so much."

Along the parade route - with Jax transported in a Ford Convertible while proudly adorning a red FDNY shirt -- fans of all ages held signs and proudly displayed the letter "X" on their cheeks in support.

"I think she's a great inspiration, and she's not afraid to show who she is," said Fiona Gioia, 10, from East Brunswick.

"Jax is my favorite," offered Janine Turner, who drove from Rockaway, NJ for the event. "She seems humble, yet insecure and that is what I love about her. I think she can turn the franchise around."

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Fradiani began his day giving an adorable weather report on the local Fox station, and then visited his alma mater, Guilford High School. He served sweet ice cream treats -- the "Fradiani Frenzy" -- at  Bishops Orchard in Guilford before performing with his band, Beach Avenue, for a "frenzied" crowd of thousands.

"Today was by far the best day of my life," Fradiani told Billboard. "A day I won't ever forget! It's hard to put into words as it more than quadrupled any expectations I could have had and I want to thank everyone involved."

Beckham had an especially adventurous homecoming, returning to the street corner where he busked with just a guitar and a dream -- only this time, his audience was in the hundreds and he didn't need change thrown in his case (but he did put down a hat "for old time's sake" and donated the proceeds to a local shelter). The Nashville party continued in his hometown of White House, Tennessee with a parade and concert where thousands of fans clapped and sang along.

"Coming to LA and seeing my career just take off has been amazing, but it's also great coming back home to where it all began," Beckham told Billboard. "Words can't express the joy in my heart being back here in Tennessee."

As for Rayvon Owen, his Richmond homecoming began with an appearance on 12News Today, continued at City Hall and wrapped with a special show at the James Center, where he was joined on stage by Yamin, who shared on Instagram that it was an emotional day for the Virginia native -- the date coincided with his beloved late mother's birthday. She, of course, was there alongside her son Elliott for his Idol homecoming parade during season five.

Owen was likewise overwhelmed by the number of fans who came out to support, and told Billboard the day was special for everyone on Team Rayvon.

"I'm so grateful to see the support of Richmond coming out for me through their votes and their love and it really brings me joy to know that I've brought them joy," he said. " They're on this journey with me, this is not just about me. Now I'm even more aware that this is team effort. I'm representing a body of people in this competition. My whole outlook has changed. This has given me a new source of inspiration to win this, to make these people proud, to make them happy... I want to go for that title, I want to bring it home... and make them proud."

The top three will be revealed on Wednesday night's episode of American Idol.


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