VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler had quite the party in his hometown Saturday, complete with a parade that had 70 entries, including floats, marching bands and two people in chicken costumes dancing alongside a Popeyes truck float.
After three weeks of worldwide recognition, Butler was honored Vicksburg-style.
The 24-year-old Butler had the winning, goal-line interception in the final minute for the New England Patriots in their Super Bowl victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Feb. 1. Since then, he has appeared on the ''Today Show,'' the ''Tonight Show'' and he even presented an award at the Grammys.
But there's nothing quite like home.
''I couldn't do it without my hometown,'' Butler said, smiling as he greeted fan after fan. ''This is where it all started.''
Hundreds of people lined the main drag of Vicksburg - a town of about 25,000 people. Several revelers set up smokers with chicken, sausage and pork on an unseasonably warm afternoon.
But the focus was on the Butler, a 2009 Vicksburg high graduate who made the Patriots as an undrafted free agent over the summer. His unlikely story - which includes a stint as an employee at the fast-food restaurant Popeyes during college - is part of the reason he's received so much love from his hometown and fans around the world.
Butler's former English teacher Jenny Drake showed off a ''Super Hero'' poster autographed by her former student.
''The fact that he's from Vicksburg, a humble beginning, and boy, look at the blessings that he has now. And we were part of it. Yeah, that makes it great,'' Drake said.
As Butler passed through Vicksburg's streets on Saturday, confetti shot from cannons on balconies. He wore his Patriots jersey - surrounded by his closest friends and family - while waving from atop a double-decker float that included a giant football and his No. 21 jersey number.
Vicksburg resident Jeremy Moffett said he was so inspired by Butler that he drew a charcoal sketch of him, which the NFL star autographed.
''I was inspired that somebody from Vicksburg is doing great things, and I wanted to show my appreciation to him and use my talent to draw a picture of him,'' Moffett said.
Despite the instant stardom, he's remaining humble.
''That was a big play,'' Butler said. ''I won't take anything away from it, but at the end of the day, I'm normal, just like everyone else. And if you see me, you just see me as a different person because of what I have done. But if you take all that away, I'm going to be the same person anyway.''
Associated Press sports writer David Brandt contributed to this report.