Look Christmas lights! Oh wait, that's police cars

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By Chris Festo

Ah, the holidays. the food, the family. the friends, the fighting. Wait. What?

I went to the Toys R Us in Gainesville this past Thursday as their sales started at midnight, thinking that I would rather stay up late than get up early.

I left the house around 10 p.m. and arrived at about 10:30. I was actually shocked by the line that was already there. I was standing about 100 yards from the entrance to the store, and within about 10 minutes there were about 20 people added behind me.

There isn't much to do standing in a line for an hour and a half, but talk to the other sad and cold people who make up the line.

A group of ladies next to me were discussing a major sale that was being held. Diapers for $5 a box. The diapers were limited to six boxes per person. So among the four of them they were getting 24 boxes. There were four ladies, and a gentleman named "Hank" who was the cart-man. His job was to stand around in the store and the ladies would bring the items to him and put them in the cart.

The leader of the women was one of the most organized people I had ever seen. She had notebooks, maps, coupon holders, the works. As she sat there studying the map she dictated the orders of where to go and what to get. They were also looking at getting numerous other items and had relatives standing at other stores, so they could do price checking on the spot and get the best deal possible.

There was a catch to all of this though. The store opened at midnight. This is true. However, that was only half of the sale; the other half didn't start until five with stuff still having to be carted out to the sales floor.

The women had stuff from both sales so they had to stay in the store for five hours. About 11:30 the crowd was ready to get their shopping on and was starting to stir. The line now stretched to the Chinese restaurant at the other end of the Oaks Mall Plaza.

A local pizza store came by and was selling pizzas to those in line, and four teenagers took it upon themselves to sell hot chocolate for a dollar a cup. Capitalism is alive and well, my friends.

Having now stood in line for an hour and a half, the line started moving and people started getting excited. Taking five steps we stop....ummmm wait a minute....We're supposed to be in the store now.... what's going on?

Then one by one, nine police cars come roaring up. People took the chance and left their spaces in line to see what the commotion was.

At my angle I was unable to see and didn't want to waste my hour and half of standing in line to go see.

Word spread like wild fire as people came running back to get in line that a man had tried to skip in line and another wouldn't let him. A pushing match started, which turned into a fight and to help stem the riot all the cops came to break it up. The line finally started moving again about 12:20 and we were all herded through the doors like cattle.

It was a mad house in there. The way it was laid out wasn't the most optimum, but I think even employees were surprised by how many people showed up.

So there we were, all shoving and cutting in line so we could get the best (and cheapest) toys for our children.

Struggling to go down the aisles, I noticed one of the diaper ladies with 24 boxes of diapers around her waiting for the cart-man.

I decided to not take a cart as it would be almost impossible to move around once inside, so I was carrying all the gifts I wanted to bestow upon my daughter.

I was looking for the check-out line when I realized that I had forgotten something. Sigh . . .

I had to turn around and fight against the stream of people. When I finally got to where the item was, they were all sold out. DANG.

So I just started with the flow back to the front of the store. Then I noticed where the check-out line was. The line was about an hour and a half long. So I took the items I had, and set them on a shelf.

I walked up to a man who worked there and said, "Sir, how do I escape this mad house?" He opened a part of the makeshift wall and let me free.

As I walked out of the store, there were still people standing in line to go in. As I drove home I was wondering whatever happened to poor Hank.

I arrived home around 1:30 and got into my warm bed, closed my eyes and went to sleep thinking that I wouldn't wake up till 10. Five hours later the stupid alarm went off.


Chris Festo is the graphic designer for the Williston Pioneer. Contact him at ads@willistonpioneer.com.