Cruise, in town for a makeshift premiere of "Mission: Impossible III," signed autographs and briefly played a snare drum as a high-school marching band played the theme from his new movie.
Cruise and Holmes, who had a baby girl last month, arrived fashionably late — about a half-hour after the star had been expected.
The 175-foot red carpet was borrowed from a Seattle event planner but that didn't matter to the throng of fans and curious onlookers who had gathered at the entrance to the South Shore Mall Cinemas.
Cruise's visit to this blue-collar timber town near the Washington coast has been front-page news for days.
Cruise was to attend the private screening at the mall cinema with lucky contest winner Kevin McCoy and 150 of his friends.
McCoy won an e-mail contest sponsored by "M:i:III" studio Paramount Pictures and Yahoo.
This is not Aberdeen's first brush with fame. Another lucky resident won an MTV contest in 1996 that brought Metallica to town.
Also, Aberdeen is the hometown of late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain.
Cruise fans began lining up at barricades around the mall's rear parking lot early Tuesday morning, and dozens broke into a dead run to secure the best spots once uniformed mall security guards removed the barriers shortly after noon.
Not all of Aberdeen's 17,000 or so residents were high with anticipation.
"I will not be there," supermarket worker Tanya Murray told The (Aberdeen) Daily World last week. "I couldn't care less that he's coming. I like his movies, it's just everything else. He seems to be such a jerk."
Cruise has been in the public eye this past year as much for his off-screen antics as for his on-screen work. Feud with Brooke Shields. Interview spat with Matt Lauer. Widely mocked couch jumping on "Oprah" over his love for Holmes.
Two Aberdeen radio stations called off couch-jumping contests scheduled for Tuesday after Paramount intervened.
"They felt it reflected poorly on Tom's image," said Tom Schlaht of Selmer's Home Furnishings, which had provided a sofa for the contest.
Associated Press Writer Rachel La Corte contributed to this report from Olympia