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Travel BLOG
October 05, 2011

James Durbin's Gift of a Lifetime

End of Summer brings big swells and great surfing to Santa Cruz County - will the ideal conditions bring out even our own American Idol? He does have the perfect board after all... Back in May, locals banned together to give James Durbin the gift of a lifetime - showing that small, sea-side Santa Cruz can do big things! Judi Oyama is a local designer and owner of Maximum Impact Design, specializing in action sports graphic designs, business as well as client support for social media, trades and trends, signage, packaging and many other facets that come up for a fast paced business. Judi collaborated with many area businesses to garner ideas and talent to create a masterpiece in honor of our most recent local celebrity, James Durbin, of American Idol fame and recent touring concert. As James Durbin climbed closer to the top in his journey to become the next American Idol, all of Santa Cruz became enthralled in his journey, including Oyama.  She focused on the good that Durbin’s success would bring Santa Cruz and how this would be a positive note in a year filled with economic struggles, tsunami and flooding. Oyama says from the moment she was asked to help design a surfboard for James Durbin, a mere 10 days before the scheduled event, she wondered if she was up for the challenge.  She called Doug Haut, owner of Haut Surfboards.  “I knew I had to design something big, bold, representing the City of Santa Cruz and had to be cool enough that Mayor Ryan Coonerty would be proud to hand off on stage in front of many American Idol James Durbin fans including my kids,” Judi said.  The idea launched further and many local players became more involved. Judi worked with the Santa Cruz City Council as well as the local artist Kevin Walsh to come up with the design of the board.  Kevin worked hard to complete the artwork, featuring Durbin, flanked by the beach and the Boardwalk in the background. Despite setbacks, Judi and a team of businesses; including Haut Surfboards, City Council and important contacts – worked their magic and made the surfboard became a reality. On May 14, 2011 in front of more than 30,000 fans at the Boardwalk, James Durbin was set to perform a history making concert for his hometown.  He had no idea the surprise Santa Cruz had planned for him.  In front of all those fans, family and friends who made “Durbin Day” possible, Santa Cruz Mayor Ryan Coonerty presented Durbin with the surfboard, made especially for him.  The day was an amazing success and a testament to a small town with a big heart.



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  • Chris Maddox 6 years 318 days ago
    I stood in line in front of the Boardwalk since 4am. Finally got to put our chairs down in front of the stage, although I didn't sit for most of the concert. James was so suprised to receive the beautiful surfboard. Now he HAS to learn to surf!! I am so proud of all the talent we have here in Santa Cruz. Hope James remembers us when he hits the top, and he will!! Made in Santa Cruz!

  • Christine@TheAums 6 years 319 days ago
    I love this story! Never get tired of it! Now I'm following Chris Rene on X exciting for Santa Cruz!