Christine Peterson for The Boston Globe
CHICOPEE -- He's still got it. The Senate election may be long over, but Scott Brown's popularity among the people of Massachusetts shows no sign of ebbing from its campaign levels.
More than 700 supporters braved the bitter cold today to see Brown hold court at the Hu Ke Lau restaurant here, the first in a series of "Citizens Open Houses" he is holding around the state over the next few days. They thrusted napkins, Keno cards, and political cartoons at him to sign, tried to shake his hand amid the crush, and snapped cellphone photos from as close as they could get.
Brown, the once little-known state lawmaker from Wrentham, took the stage after being introduced by comedian Steve Sweeney, who said, "The only guy who ever thought he could do it was Scott Brown himself." Brown spoke briefly, saying he was trying to remain grounded amid his sudden stardom.
"I want to just say from the bottom of my heart and my family's hearts, thank you for the outpouring of support," he said, adding that he felt the hyper-partisan atmosphere in Washington was already changing as a result of his election.
Afterward, Brown started to work the crowd, as people climbed over booths to get closer. He asked for patience and said he would shake every hand. Women gave catcalls.
"This was history," said Tina Hemond, 54, a volunteer from the Brown campaign, who was in the crowd. Hemond, who was joined by a colleague from her Chicopee ad agency, Teddy Woeppel, 25, said she was impressed by Brown because he was "actually a man of the people."
Scores of people had waited in the cold -- with the wind chill, the temperature felt like 4 below zero -- outside the restaurant before its doors opened.
Brown is crisscrossing the state today, Saturday, and Sunday to hold the open houses.
More than a victory lap, the tour will give Brown a chance to thank supporters personally and also reach out to people who did not vote for him last week, the campaign said this week.
The telegenic Republican's come-from-behind victory over Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley has sent political shock waves across the nation. The voter anger revealed in his victory in a Democratic-leaning state has prompted Democrats in Washington to rethink their agenda.
Brown -- and, we're told, his now-famous GMC Canyon pick-up truck -- will make five more stops:
Falmouth : Today, 7 p.m. , Falmouth Inn , 824 Main St. (Route 28)
Saugus : Saturday, 1 p.m. , Kowloon restaurant, 948 Broadway (Rte. 1 North)
Dracut : Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Lenzi's Catering , 810 Merrimack Ave. (Route 110)
Worcester : Saturday, 6 p.m. , Maxwell-Silverman's Restaurant , 25 Union St.
Foxborough : Sunday, 5 p.m. , Christina's Function Facility , 2 Washington St. (Route 1)
Globe correspondent Christine Peterson contributed to this report.
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