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Bird-watching: Fans flock to Brookwood to watch Falcons scrimmage

SNELLVILLE - Friday evening at Brookwood Community Stadium was standing-room-only as thousands packed the house for an early glimpse at the 2009 Atlanta Falcons.

The second edition of Friday Night Lights - part of the Falcons All-Access Weekend - was, by all accounts, a success. In addition to an offense vs. defense scrimmage, there was food, fireworks, games and giveaways.

Under a radio station tent, children (and a couple of adults) tried their hand at a Nintendo Wii game that featured the Atlanta Falcons against the Carolina Panthers.

Around the corner, kids engaged themselves with field goal and pass challenges in the Kids' Fun Zone.

Just inside the gates, two 10-feet tall, larger-than-life sculptures were the centerpiece for conversation and photographs. One work depicted a fictitious Falcon wearing a No. 9 jersey hoisting a visibly shaken San Diego Chargers player by his pants, exposing a pair of heart-adorned boxers.

The statues, produced by Chisel 3D of Atlanta, are intended to be a "crowd pleaser" and promote "fanism," according to company president Gary Bystrom.

Three-year-old Joshua Baker of Lilburn was pleased - and intrigued - exploring the sculpture as his dad, Dean, took shots for the scrapbook.

While he admitted to not being a die-hard fan, Dean Baker said he looks forward to the upcoming season.

"It's just the excitement of Falcons football and getting going with this season," he said.

Taia Reynolds, 12, was more excited about her newly autographed Falcons cheerleaders poster than the upcoming scrimmage.

"I like football, but I really love cheerleading," she said. "And they're so pretty."

With all its hoopla and something-for-everybody atmosphere, some folks took in Friday Night Lights strictly to see what their team might have to offer for a highly anticipated season.

"Looks like we have some good team speed," one man said into his cell phone.

"It's going to be all about Matt Ryan and how he performs," said another.

Parked on the grass just outside the stadium, an Emanuel County couple peered through the fence as their two children entertained themselves with water guns and toy robots.

"We are up here visiting and thought we would come on out," said Robert Jean. "We can see everything from here and don't have to deal with the crowd."

If the Brookwood crowd was an issue, considering the electricity surrounding the 2009 campaign, the Jeans might not want to venture too close to the Georgia Dome for the next few Sundays.