Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS - With two major bowl games less than a week apart, the Crescent City is starting the new year strong when it comes to tourism. Each game is a big economic boost for the city, with thousands of fans already in town for the Sugar Bowl.
All throughout the French Quarter, you'll spot signs that the Sugar Bowl is just days away.
Sunday afternoon, the Saginaw High School band played on the steps of the Washington Artillery. Band members flew in from Saginaw, Michigan for the big game.
Flags with logos for University of Michigan and Virginia Tech fly high from balconies.
Next to Jax Brewery Sunday, Michigan and Virginia Tech fans kicked off this year's Fan Fest. The free festival is aimed at getting fans pumped for Tuesday's Sugar Bowl, as well as the BCS National Championship Jan. 9th.
There are concerts at 6:15 every night of the fest. It runs from noon to 8 PM Jan. 1st, 2nd, 7th, and 8th.
"Just to be among the other Michigan faithful, just to experience and have a good time in general," said Mostafa Sallam, a Michigan alum, of the atmosphere at Fan Fest.
Tourism officials say the Sugar Bowl and the BCS National Championship each have a $200 million economic impact. Hotels are sold out for the BCS Championship.
"We actually bought our plane tickets before the formal announcement, that's how excited we were about coming down to New Orleans," said Kristin Benokraitis, a Virginia Tech alum.
Some families are finding themselves torn between Sugar Bowl teams. But Stacie Steinke, of McLean VA, had a clever solution. She sewed shirts from both teams together.
"We have a Wolverine grad dad and we have a Hokie daughter, so we're a house divided, a house united," said Steinke.
Meanwhile, with the Saints heading to the playoffs and LSU squaring off against Alabama in the BCS National Championship, the focus in New Orleans is on football.
With the first day of the year marking the Saints final game of the regular season, Who Dats say there's no better way to kick off 2012.
"This is the city to be at, right here," said a Saints Fan dressed as a nun, who would identify himself only as "Sista." "We got everything football going on, as a Saints fan, as an LSU fan, I'm happy man!"
"It's an awesome time in Louisiana right now, and we're pulling for our team, and we're going to go all the way, all the way Saints, all the way LSU," said Saints fan Karen Powell outside the Superdome.