“You can see how much we have to deal with in reforming our system,” said Tsongas. “You can see a public option is a way to move forward and I’m committed to moving forward. I am very much committed to a public option.”

Tsongas has originally planned to have the forum at Market Basket, but interest is so high, it was moved to Town Hall.

Within minutes of the 10 a.m. start time, Town Hall reached its maximum fire safety capacity of 220, forcing police to turn away hopeful attendees at the door. But that didn’t stop the hundreds of protestors from around the commonwealth from congregating outside and chanting, “No public option.”

“I’ve seen socialized medicine,” said Linda Consaul, a registered nurse from Tewksbury. “My sister was 41 years old and died of breast cancer in England. … They are wrapping it up in a nice package. People don’t understand socialized medicine.”

In an interview after the forum, Tsongas said references to the reform package as socialized medicine are “utterly erroneous.”

“I think there is a lot of misinformation out there and one of the great purposes of these is to dispel that,” said Tsongas. “You can see how passionate people are about this. MORE from Wicked Local Maynard, Protesters challenge Tsongas on healthcare reform

The Boston Herald story: "Healthy debate at last"

Tsongas’ next forum is scheduled for Tuesday in Hudson.