I think Woodrow goes along initially but he changes his mind. The problem, I think, then becomes he can't stop it all. He protests, he even tells people he isn't deserving but people think that only points to his modesty. He is swept up in all the good intentions of the town to where he can only straighten things out at the point of his speech.
The problem is that Demarest won't stop. He knows it has gone too far but he is determined to see it all the way through.
Some poignant moments especially surrounding Woodrow's father. You really have to feel for Bracken's "Truesmith" as make he makes his confession speech. A little feel good idea becomes all this and it wasn't even his idea.