FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP — A great day for Bruce Springsteen fans may have ended on a sour note for some.

The Boss posed for pictures, gave hugs and talked with about 2,000 fans at the Barnes & Noble  on Tuesday. He even arrived 90 minutes earlier than the scheduled start time, to the delight of fans who arrived at dawn in order to be among the first to get signed copies of his new autobiography "Born To Run"

But Springsteen let down those who planned on coming in the afternoon by leaving around 3 p.m., an hour earlier than the promised end time of 4 p.m.

On the Bruce Springsteen fan website Backstreets, Howard Bloom responded to several message board posts about the early exit.

"The ticket as has been well documented pointed out the start time was 12 and the end time was 4. Several people noted they called the bookstore and were told the same thing. The Facebook page suggested the event started at 12 and ended at 2, again not everyone who had a ticket or who called the bookstore knew about the change time," wrote Bloom. "We all make mistakes, this is what this is all about. An apology starting with Bruce would help heal hurt feelings."

Numerous phone calls to Barnes & Noble corporate offices for an explanation were not returned.

Maria Baralus said she arrived at 2:45 p.m. and after waiting in line to get her copy of the book, which was a requirement of being allowed to meet Springsteen, she was told by a Barnes & Noble employee that he had left.

"There was a lull and he had been there since 10:30 so Bruce's team didn't feel he should stay any longer," Baralus, a lifelong Freehold resident, said.

Baralus said there were about 100 other people in the store who also got the bad news.

"People didn't stand in line just to get a book. They wanted to see him and meet him."

Another Freehold resident, Tom Apostle, said he and his 11-year-old son were the last ones to get their pictures taken with Springsteen.

"Time was a factor because they said he was about to leave — rush rush rush," Apostle said he and his son were brought to the back of the store and found about a half dozen people ahead of them.

"I didn't notice that I was the last person in line but after we had our picture taken, the fella who was taking the video wanted me to sign a release and mentioned that we were the last person to have their picture taken," Apostle said. He looked back and Springsteen was gone. "My picture is stamped at 2:50 p.m."

"The guy looked spent," said Apostle. He said that Springsteen recognized that his son has Down syndrome but "Bruce was happy to see him. That was the nicest part. Bruce had him come up on stage. That was kind of nice."

Michele Amabile contributed to this report

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.

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