Two men whose marketing stunt for a cartoon show inadvertently shut down Boston were released on bondThursday, and didn't seem to take matters seriously.

Boston went into terror-alert mode on Wednesday in response to mysterious electronic devices that turned out to be cryptic TV ads.

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Sean Stevens, 28, (left) and Peter Berdovsky, 27, pleaded not guilty to placing a hoax device and disorderly conduct. ((Izuayehu Tesfaye/Associated Press))

Peter Berdovsky, 27, and Sean Stevens, 28, were held on $2,500 cash bond each after they pleaded not guilty to charges of placing a hoax device and disorderly conduct.

Apparently amused with the stir thepublicity stunt caused, the twowaved and smiled as they greeted people in court.

Outside, they met reporters and television cameras and launched into a nonsensical discussion of hair styles of the 1970s.

"What we really want to talk about today — it's kind of important to some people — it's haircuts of the 1970s," Berdovsky said.

The 38 blinking signs — each a third of a metre high— planted at bridges and at other Boston landmarks sent bomb squads scouring the city Wednesday.

It was later revealed the "suspicious devices," which resembled circuit boards depicting a cartoon character giving the middle finger, were nothing more than ads for the Cartoon Network TV show Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

A cult following

The animated series, which enjoys a cult following for its stream-of-consciousness dialogue, follows the exploits of a milkshake, a box of fries and a lump of grilled meat.

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This electronic device was hung beneath an overpass in Boston. It, and many others, sparked concerns of a bomb scare. ((Todd Vanderlin/Associated Press))

While city officials, including Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, were outraged, roughly a dozen fans gathered outside Charlestown District Court Thursday to protest a response they believe goes too far to crack down on a comic marketing gag.

"It's almost too easy to be a terrorist these days," 26-year-old Jennifer Mason said. "You stick a box on a corner and you can shut down a city."

Mason said there's nothing wrong with being vigilant, but she said it was ridiculous to shut down parts of a city "when anyone under the age of 35 knew this was a joke the second they saw it."

Fans in the crowdchanted and wavedsignsreading "Free Peter" and "1-31-07 Never Forget."

Apology issued

Turner Broadcasting Systems Inc. owns the Cartoon Network and issued an apology for "a marketing campaign that was mistaken for a public danger."

Turner said once it learned of the Boston problem around 5 p.m. on Wednesday, the companyinformed police of similar ads that had been planted in 10 cities for two to three weeks: Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, Ore., Austin, Texas, San Francisco and Philadelphia.

Authorities have vowed to hold Turner accountable for the $750,000 in police costs accrued by the city when it responded to the devices.

With files from the Associated Press