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Antwan Harris / Eyewitness News
Email: aharris@wwltv.com | Twitter: @antwanharris

NEW ORLEANS -- The Sugar Bowl Fan Fest was in full swing New Year's Day as thousands braved the chilly weather to support their favorite teams.

'We are very excited it is a huge opportunity for our team and our fans are enjoying New Orleans. It is a great city and a lot of fun and we are very happy to be here,' said Bobby Nash, who is part of the 'Sooner Rufnek' crew.

There was plenty of music and food for fans to take in and a gauntlet for the young athletes-in-training to enjoy.

For vendors, it was a busy day as expected.

Merchandise couldn't stay on the racks at a mobile store for Lids.

'It has been extremely busy, non-stop,' said Lids employee Joseph Bermudez. 'As soon as we open, we had a lot of fans coming in.'

In just 24 hours, the French Quarter went from New Year's celebration to Fan Fest concert.

Organizers say it takes countless effort for such a quick turnaround, but the results have been worth it.

'They are happy and proud to be here and I am proud that we can give this to both the fans and the city of New Orleans,' said Pam Hollander with Allstate.

As the Fan Fest comes to a close, the focus now turns to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome where some say the Oklahoma Sooner versus Alabama game will be a difficult one for both teams and right now it's anyone's game.

'I think we are going to surprise some people. We have to play our best game and hope for the best outcome. It's a good opportunity,' said Colten Presgrove, an Oklahoma University student.

Alabama fan Tim Pierce said, 'I'm hoping this is Saban saying we should have been in the championship game if we didn't mess up in the Auburn game.'

Organizers say this is one of the largest fan fests on record despite some of the rainy weather. They are expecting thousands Thursday the kickoff of the Sugar Bowl.

The kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

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