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My night at the CMAs

After standing outside of the Bridgestone Arena for more than two hours in the rain and cold Wednesday night, I received free tickets to the 2014 CMA Awards.

My friends and I braved the weather and the occasional creep to get the free tickets. We tried getting wristbands, but there was a new policy this year. Only 100 wristbands were given out Tuesday evening and another 100 Wednesday morning.

Around 8 p.m., two women emerged from the arena with envelopes stuffed with tickets. When the one lady asked for any group of three, my friend Jacqueline grabbed the tickets, and we ran to the doors.

Once inside, there were tables filled with special CMA books and country editions of People Magazine stacked high. Naturally, I grabbed three or so copies of each since there were still hundreds left.

After getting the books and magazines, we headed toward where our seats were located in section 114. Meanwhile, Jason Aldean was performing his newest single, “Burnin’ It Down.” I sang along as we made our way to our section.

When we found our section, we had to wait for the next commercial break before the usher could let people in. While we waited, Aldean finished his performance, and Little Big Town performed with Ariana Grande. It was awesome to hear them perform, but unfortunately, we couldn’t see them.

Finally, there was a break, and we were let in. We quickly found our seats located to the right of the stage. A man announced there was a minute left until the show would start back up. And, yes, he did count down and announce for us to applause before every commercial break ended.

After the applause died down, the award for Vocal Duo of the Year was presented to none other than Belmont’s own Florida Georgia Line.

I didn’t realize how close our seats were until Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley went onstage to accept the award. They were roughly 50 feet away from us. Almost all of the celebrities were close to us. To say I was starstruck would be an understatement.

There were more performances, including Brad Paisley, George Strait and Eric Church, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan and Carrie Underwood. They all sound amazing live and being that close to them was spectacular.

The energy level was high when the Doobie Brothers performed with Jennifer Nettles and Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott. The crowd was on its feet, dancing and singing along, myself included. But that was true for almost every performance.

I’ll admit I teared up when Vince Gill cried as he accepted the Irving Waugh Award of Excellence. I also was teary when Luke Bryan won his first CMA Award ever – the night’s top honor, Entertainer of the Year.

The Doobie Brothers closed the show out, and they were rocking out on stage. When they were done, everyone left. We stuck around to take pictures, and Luke Bryan ran onstage and hugged everyone up there. He was so excited.

The celebrations didn’t end just because the show did. We walked out onto Broadway, and people were singing and dancing. Little Big Town performed at Rippy’s Bar & Grill. Big and Rich and Lee Brice performed at the Carl Black CMA Awards After-Party at Legends Corner.

Standing in the rain paid off. I got an awesome view and enough memories to last a lifetime.

How many days until the 2015 CMA Awards?

Katelyn Fohner

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