The Academy of Country Music awards took over Las Vegas on Sunday night. This was the first time many of the country stars were back in town since 1 October.

The awards started with a message of hope. This year’s show was a balance between celebration and remembrance.

“So good to be here,” Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban said as they walked the blue carpet. “Vegas Strong!”

“They’re not forgotten: Route 91,” Scotty McCreery said.

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“We are Vegas Strong and we could not do what we do without those fans,” Carly Pearce said. “We love you, tonight is for you.”

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Many stars wore gold pins to honor survivors and victims of the shooting.

“To bring country music back to Vegas, I think it shows how strong we are,” Jordan Davis said. “I hope the families that suffered such a tragedy... I hope we are honoring them somehow.”

Sunday was also about celebrating some of the greatest in country music. Fans lined the street to take pictures with the stars.

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“Darius Rucker, we got really close, Lee Brice,” friends from Maine told us which stars they snapped selfies with.

The biggest buzz may have been around Carrie Underwood’s return to the stage. She debuted her new song.

Fans outside said they were happy to see the stars, enjoying the moment, while also opening up about the tragedy that unites them.

“I’ve noticed how open they are,” one fan from Seattle said. “They're not shy about telling their feelings. Vegas Strong: it's evident. You can see it.”

“It’s always like a family reunion,” the Swon Brothers said. “But this year, it's Vegas Strong. There's a spirit here that's undeniable.”

The ACM has been very supportive in the aftermath of 1 October. The show’s organizers even gave FOX5 more than 100 tickets to tonight’s event to share with 1 October survivors.

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