07/26/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

"American Idol" Auditions Begin In Northern California

DALY CITY, Calif. -- Neither an endless line, pitiless fog nor the curious scent of sweet Mexican churros and portable toilets was enough to keep more than 7,000 American Idol hopefuls from the first Season 8 audition.

"This is an awesome experience," says Tyler Aguirre, 27, of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., bundled under a blanket next to his tryout-forged friend, Erin Shelton, 16, outside Cow Palace. "This is a way to say I was a small part of TV history."

That opportunity is available to an even bigger pool, thanks to a rule change that allows those who fell short of the top 24 last year to audition again.

A few hundred or so folks here who get the nod this round will return to the same venue for scrutiny before Idol's on-air inquisitors: Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson. They've got reason to be optimistic: Last year's California audition, in San Diego, is where five of Season 7's final 12 got through.

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