Thousands converge on Springfield for “The Simpsons Movie” premiere

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(Host) Springfield residents will likely be talking about this past weekend for years. Near perfect weather and lots of publicity brought thousands of people to town for Saturday’s world premiere of the Simpson’s movie.

VPR’s Nina Keck was there and filed this report.

(Town Band plays the theme from The Simpsons)

(Keck) Traffic was diverted and downtown Springfield was packed with people on Saturday. The Town band played the theme from The Simpsons while life size cartoon figures of Bart, Homer, Marge and Lisa worked the crowd. Like any true movie premiere there were lots of politicians, Hollywood producer types and scores of paparazzi. Camera crews from Germany, Russia and Spain jockeyed for space with those from the BBC, Inside Edition and local networks.

(Tim Kavanagh) “Ohhhh Springfield – come on!”

(Keck) Tim Kavanagh MC’d the event. Kavanagh portrayed Homer Simpson in the video that helped Vermont beat out 13 other Springfields to host the movie premiere.

(Kavanagh) “Oh yeah, Oh yea -Oh you guys look great out there!”

(Keck) Fans of the long running series were everywhere, many from out of state and even out of the country. Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening joked that while it was his first visit to the Vermont town, it felt good to be home.

(Groening) “It’s really, really great to be here. This is such a thrill to have the world premiere of The Simpson’s Movie in the real Springfield. As Homer would say – woo hoo!”

(Keck) Local residents Doug Day and Greg Villone shook their heads in disbelief at all the speeches, crowds and international media coverage. Not much usually happens in Springfield they said. But as long time fans of The Simpsons , they like to think of their Springfield as Homer’s Springfield.

(Collins and Villone) “You know in the Simpsons, Springfield is not a really big city. And a lot of the Springfields that did run for it like Springfield Mass – you know it’s a city. We’re not really a city we’re just a small town place. And I thought that we fit the description of the actual Simpsons – where they live – better than any other place – plus we have a nuclear power plant forty minutes away.”

(Keck) In honor of the world premiere, Ben and Jerry’s crafted a special one day only ice cream flavor based on Homer Simpson’s favorite foods – beer and donuts. April Choiniere, Laura Tagliaferri and Nicole Snape – all from Springfield, Massachusettes tasted it somewhat cautiously.

(Ice cream tasters) “It does taste kind of chocolatey-ish. It’s like a chocolate glazed donut. I taste donut. I don’t taste any beer. I’m disappointed. (Laughter)

(Keck) While the ice cream was plentiful -tickets to the Simpson’s movie were not. Springfield’s small downtown theater only seats 212 people, so organizers held four separate showings. Free tickets were raffled off throughout the day. One of the first to see the film was Vermont Congressman Peter Welch, who left the theater grinning.

(Welch) “Homer for President! It was terrific. I went with my son and he loves The Simpsons and he had me watching it for years and it lived up to expectations. It’s fit for the large screen. I mean the whole day was terrific. What’s really wonderful is that Springfield didn’t even start out as one of the towns in the competition and you had some people in town who decided to do a video and it’s like a dream.”

(Keck) Welch says it’s nice to see what a small Vermont community can do. While he and about 800 others were able to see the movie, those who couldn’t get tickets at the Springfield premiere will have to wait until the 27th when the Simpson’s movie hits theaters nationwide.

For VPR news, I’m Nina Keck in Springfield.

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