The tiny blue-collar timber town of Aberdeen in western Washington (pop. 17,000) may be best known as the home of the late grunge rocker Kurt Cobain, but Tuesday night it embraced the most famous movie star couple in the world: Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, there to attend a makeshift premiere of his Mission: Impossible III at a local mall.
Among the 2,000 fans who turned out to see the duo was Wal-Mart employee Kevin McCoy, 27, who won a Yahoo! and Paramount Pictures-sponsored online trivia contest – and “was shocked” when someone called a few weeks ago to say he’d won a private screening of the movie for about 200 of his closest friends.
Cruise and Holmes, parents of 3-week-old daughter Suri, arrived fashionably late before stepping on to a 175-ft. red carpet that had been borrowed from a Seattle event planner. But the enthusiasm of the couple and the crowd was anything but second-hand.
Cruise autographed anything and everything: headshots, DVDs, posters, baby clothes, hats, baseball mitts, a life-size cutout of his Jerry Maguire character, the hood of someone’s car and even copies of the PEOPLE cover story announcing Suri’s birth.
Asked by PEOPLE where was the baby, Holmes replied: “She’s home.”
Aberdeen’s pro tem Mayor, Bill Simpson, declared it was “good to share in McCoy’s winnings” and the premiere – which took nine days to prepare for – was the biggest celebrity event to happen in the coastal logging town since Metallica surprised a fan for an MTV contest in 1996.
“But, today, May 9, 2006, is now officially Tom Cruise Day at South Shore Mall in Aberdeen,” said Simpson as he presented Cruise and Holmes with a plaque and official city pins. “We are so honored to have you here. You are welcome back any time.”
As for McCoy, his brush with Hollywood was “surreal,” he told PEOPLE, adding that he wasn’t sure he was ready to go back to processing photos at Wal-Mart the next day.
“I can’t really call in sick because everyone knows I was here tonight,” he said. “But, we’ll see.”