Crowd swarms for the love of Ellen

On a day as golden as their idol's hairdo, crowds flocked to the steps of the Sydney Opera House to chance their luck at meeting Ellen DeGeneres.

She performed a live cross from Los Angeles to the crowds at the Australian landmark in advance of her upcoming tour in March.

Word travelled fast after a few cryptic tweets Monday afternoon instructed fans to come prepared on Tuesday morning, packed bag and passport at the ready. "Before I go Down Under, someone in Sydney's gonna have a chance to come up over," she announced.

The response, in scenes mirroring Oprah Winfrey's visit only two years earlier, was the masses congregated across the boardwalk of the Opera House early this morning. Throngs of luggage and loyalists swarmed the tiny stage overlooking the Botanical Gardens, with hopes of being whisked away later that day to join Ellen in "the land where dreams are made, Burbank", the host quipped during the live cross.

One woman, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of being caught taking a day off work, left her four children at home and her husband on standby. "If we get picked, they'll just get a phone call from the airport saying, 'We'll be home whenever'," she laughs.

Front-row two years ago for the Oprah telecast, she understands the pull of the talkshow host phenomenon. "They're funny, real, and relate to everyday people. They're just real people, and it's great to be down here for both of them," she said.

The fans chanted, they danced, they begged and screamed, but as soon as their queen graced the monitors on stage, the eruption was cavernous, and the first thing she did was thank the crowds for braving the heat.

The 54-year-old, whose birthday coincidentally falls on Australia Day, challenged the crowd to wax lyrical about why they should win the trip, and perform it in their best opera voice, no less. Some had camped out all night for the chance to meet her, and had no hesitation in mentioning it in song.

Only four in the very heart of the sweating, heaving crowd warbled their way overseas, but the crowds were assured that tickets would not be a necessity during her visit, with plenty of free events and opportunities to meet Ellen in Australia.

Best friends from Penrith, Carly Heading, who turned 23 on the day, and Jennifer Kenyon, 21, were Ellen's first choice, winning for their Taylor Swift-inspired song. However, in an unfortunate turn of events, Kenyon was unable to join her friend on the 3pm flight to Los Angeles as she lacked a valid passport. Heading's sister Briony was a late, but jubilant, stand-in. Despite only a planned two-ticket giveaway, Forestville brothers Julian and Dailius Wilson also received a spontaneous free trip.

Ellen is set to touch down in Sydney in March for a whirlwind tour, with plans to shoot footage for the show in Sydney and Melbourne. The episode featuring today's giveaway is set to run locally tomorrow on both Channel Nine and Foxtel.

The story Crowd swarms for the love of Ellen first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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