SPRINGFIELD, Vt. – Rolling out the yellow carpet, the "hometown" of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie played host this weekend to the premiere of "The Simpsons Movie," with creator Matt Groening among thousands who turned out to toast the debut.
The film's producers were also in the crowd celebrating the TV cartoon family's first full-length film.
Streets were closed off, costumed Simpsons lookalikes walked through the crowds and blue-haired fans vied for tickets to one of four showings of the movie at the 212-seat Springfield Theater, the first of which was by invitation only.
"As Homer would say, 'Woo-hoo!"' Groening said in a short ceremony before the first showing.
Brock Rutter of the Vermont Film Commission, noting the premiere's intensity, declared: "I think it's quite clearly bigger than Elvis and the Beatles put together."
The Vermont town got the most votes in an online USA Today poll and earned the right to host the premiere, beating out Springfields in Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon and Tennessee.
Officials for Vermont's Springfield, a city of about 9,300 that was originally uninvited, lobbied to be included in the contest and then won it, in part on the strength of a homemade video in which Homer -- played by a local talk-show host -- runs through town chasing a big, pink, rolling doughnut before he gets chased into a movie theater by a mob of people.
Vermont's Springfield got 15,367 votes, edging out Springfield, Ill., which drew 14,634.
"It's so great to have this little town on the map for something positive," said Angelo Jardina, 56, of Springfield.
On Saturday, the Simpsons were everywhere you turned. About 2,000 people turned out for the festivities, far below the 10,000 some had forecast, police said.
A banner strung across Main Street read "Welcome to Springfield, Vermont, home of the Simpsons," with three frosted pink doughnuts -- each with a bite mark.
Stand-up cutouts of the characters from TV's dysfunctional cartoon family filled shop windows.
Fans noshed on "Duff & D'oh-Nuts" ice cream, a custom-made concoction from Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc., and sipped a special version of "Duff" beer made by Vermont-based Magic Hat Brewing Co.
About 600 tickets were to be given away for three showings Saturday, with Springfield residents getting preference.
Nick Seymour, 19, of Peterborough, N.H., showed up sporting a fresh Homer Simpson tattoo on his back. "I'm a huge Simpsons fan, and a little crazy," he said.
The movie also got rave reviews from people who watched the early showing.
"It was fantastic. It's a big culmination of all the years of the Simpsons," said Mike Iglinski, 26, of Manchester.
"I thought it was very cute. Very clever, lots of little allusions," said Mary Helen Hawthorne, 57, of Springfield.