DOORBUSTER SHOPPING

After carving the turkey and wrapping up the leftovers, thousands of people in the Omaha area flocked to local malls and shopping centers for what's becoming its own American tradition: shopping on Thanksgiving.

They waited in line, they rushed to doorbuster sales and they waited in more lines.

Many shoppers said they weren't necessarily out for a specific deal on a new television set or a pair of boots. They were, well, a bit stir-crazy.

"This was just kind of spur-of-the moment," Omahan Kaylynne Williams said of her decision to head to J.C. Penney at Oak View Mall around 3 p.m. "The guys were watching football and we were bored. Why not join the mob?"

She snagged a deal on a set of Pyrex storage containers. Her mom, Connie Stevens of Ogallala, Nebraska, paged through the store's ad while holding an air popper popcorn machine.

Their Thanksgiving shopping won't stop the two from heading out early today as well for the classic Black Friday deals, they said. They planned to stop at the Nebraska Furniture Mart, Kohl's and Target.

"It's a tradition," Williams said of Black Friday shopping.

The Mahoneys made the evening of shopping a family affair. Nine members — aunts, brothers and cousins — headed to J.C. Penney to check out the scene.

It was a first for Patrick Mahoney and his two sons, Sean, 11, and Nathan, 9, all from Allen, Texas, and visiting family in Omaha.

"We ate at noon, went into a food coma and took a nap. We knew the stores opened at 3 p.m., so we came over," Mahoney said.

Nathan found a mini-drone on sale for a third of its normal $90 price. Otherwise, the three tried to stay out of the fray. "We're just along for the ride," Mahoney said. "It's less chaotic than I thought."

An Omaha police officer sat in a cruiser in the parking lot at Kohl's near 144th Street and West Center Road to keep an eye on any potential chaos. Several hundred people lined up for the store's 6 p.m. opening.

Melanie Bachman and her daughters were first in line, getting there about 3:40 p.m.

Bachman was hoping to get a good deal on a PS4 gaming system.

Two hours doesn't compare with her longest Black Friday wait: 12 hours overnight outside Nebraska Furniture Mart.

The J.C. Penney at Oak View saw nearly triple the number of shoppers lined up compared with last year, General Manager Lori Curtright said.

Weather likely played a part in the crowds. This year's 40-degree temperatures were probably welcomed by customers who endured freezing drizzle and ice last year.

When the doors opened, a crowd swarmed the employees handing out coupons that were worth up to $500 off. No one was hurt, Curtright said.

"It was crazy. It was just a mob scene," she said.

Curtright estimated today would be just as busy, especially around 8 a.m.

Still, some others said they'd skip Black Friday altogether after an all-night Thanksgiving shopping spree.

Jeni Sadler of Omaha woke at 6 a.m. to cook and hosted 10 for a noon lunch. That left her and her 13-year-old daughter, Alix, plenty of time to head at 2:30 p.m. to the Oak View Younkers, where they were first in line for doors that would open at 5 p.m.

Decked out in blankets, earmuffs, scarves and gloves, Alix had her eye on a few pairs of shoes, plus some Christmas gifts. The Sadlers planned to stop at Target later on.

Today will be spent recuperating, Jeni Sadler said.

"We just sleep on Friday," she said.

Added Alix: "And watch football."

402-444-1414; paige.yowell@owh.com

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