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Fan favorites: 'American Idol' mania takes over Gwinnett

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. "American Idol" winner Scotty McCreery, left, and runner-up Lauren Alaina perform during the "American Idol" Live! Tour on Tuesday night at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. "American Idol" winner Scotty McCreery, left, and runner-up Lauren Alaina perform during the "American Idol" Live! Tour on Tuesday night at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.

DULUTH — The “American Idol” Live! Tour stopped at the Arena at Gwinnett Center on Tuesday night with a swarm of “Idol” aficionados who almost sold out the venue.

It was a unanimous vote that Georgia’s own Lauren Alaina was the crowd favorite, especially with the younger girls.

“I love Lauren Alaina,” said Carson Veal, 7. “She’s a great singer and she’s so pretty — everybody in my family just loves her.”

For photos from the American Idol Live! Tour, or to upload your own, click HERE.

She later added, “I want to be like her when I grow up. I want to be a country singer, just like Lauren Alaina!”

Veal came with a large group of her friends — who equally agreed that Alaina was the singer to watch.

“Lauren Alaina is my favorite singer,” said Mackenzie Fitzgerald, 8. “I saw her at a secret performance and I got to hug her.”

These young ladies don’t realize how much they have in common with Alaina, who is only 16 years old and had the same dreams.

“I lived in a town where there was only 3,000 people,” Alaina said. “I probably wouldn’t have made it without ‘American Idol.’”

Hours before the concert in the sweltering heat, hundreds of devoted fans camped out in front of the arena with hopes to catch a glimpse of their beloved singers in the flesh. Besides Team Alaina, there were plenty of others supporting the contestants they voted for during the show.

Girls flashed homemade signs that proclaimed “Lauren ROCKS” and boys threaded together T-shirts stating “Paul’s Crew.” There was also a proud pack of giggly teenage girls who adorned matching shirts which said, “Scotty, I want to be your shawty.”

“I want to tell people to have fun,” rocker James Durbin said. “You’re at a concert. You’re not home, you’re not voting tonight — get up out of your seat and have fun.”

And that’s exactly what the crowd did. People of all ages showed up to listen to their favorite contestant sing renditions of classic hits.

“I brought my girls tonight for fun — the experience of it,” Lana Chumachenko said. “They watch it (‘Idol’) because they love to sing, especially on the karaoke machine.”

Although the audience thinks it is a treat to see their idols live on stage, the singers crave the fans’ energy and support.

“It’s fun performing in front of so many people each night,” musician Paul McDonald said. “It’s a cool thing.”

Durbin agreed completely, “When I get on stage its like — wow — and I remember why I wanted to be a singer in the first place.”