Alex Preston gets 'Idol' praise during Granite State homecoming
American Idol contestant Alex Preston, center, signs an autograph during a parade in downtown Durham with his parents, Paul and Alice Philbrick, of Mont Vernon, on Saturday. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)
It was a loud homecoming for Alex Preston, New Hampshire's quiet "American Idol" contestant, who has secured a spot in the top three of Season 13.
Fans waited for several hours to get a glimpse of Preston, 21, who arrived in style with a large limousine and "American Idol" camera crew in tow.
"It means so much that I can actually be here in person to thank you guys for all of the support you have been giving me," Preston told the crowd.
"We are all so incredibly proud of you," she told Preston, a 2011 graduate of Souhegan High School and a student at the University of New Hampshire. "You are by far the most popular thing to be going on in New Hampshire."
Preston was the only contestant to submit an online audition and be accepted for Fox's hit music competition.
While visiting with fans at Mont Vernon Town Hall, Preston took the opportunity to sing his original song, "Fairytales," while also singing his version of Ed Sheeran's "A-Team."
Preston said he was excited to return to New Hampshire.
"This is absolutely insane that the whole town came out to support me. It is absolutely crazy," said Preston, who was joined by his parents and siblings.
"It is a lot of work, but it is worth it," said Preston, who has already secured a spot on the "American Idol" summer tour.
As for his college career, Preston says he is still a student at the University of New Hampshire, but has been deferring classes since his "Idol" journey began. He acknowledges that he may take some time off after the tour.
Parade at UNH
Durham also celebrated Preston's homecoming on Saturday with a large parade and free concert at the Whittemore Center. People from all over New Hampshire and beyond traveled to hear Preston sing.
Preston's sister, Samantha Philbrick, described her brother's journey as unbelievable.
"What can I say, this is beautiful," the younger Philbrick said while watching a large crowd cheer on her brother.
Sandy and Andy Brackett traveled from Moultonborough to see Preston.
Student Jillian Belliveau, 20, of Manchester, said the event was another great boon for the college.
"We've had so much talent come from UNH," Belliveau said.
Closing the season in style