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Black Friday crowd is under control

Hunter Witt, who works in asset control at Target in Moore, works through the night to walk the store through its first Black Friday ever.
BY JENNIFER PALMER Modified: November 25, 2011 at 7:54 pm •  Published: November 25, 2011

A few minutes later, Lucas begins handing out tickets for the TVs. With only 25 available, they go fast. The man who had been waiting for hours doesn't get one. Disappointed, he packs up his folding chair, forfeits his spot in line and leaves.

11:30 p.m.

A sea of workers in red shirts gathers near customer service as store manager David Pena leads a huddle. They listen as he explains what to expect.

“No matter what happens, it's going to be very busy for about two-and-a-half hours. It will take these people about 20 minutes to pick out what they want, then the line will go all the way back to PFresh (the grocery department) and down to trim-a-tree. Our job,” Pena said, “is to just keep feeding the people to the lanes and ringing them up as quick as possible.

“We only have 550 shopping carts,” he added, and the employees laughed. “They will be gone almost instantly. So cart attendants, you're really not going to have any carts to go get because as soon as one gets empty, someone will go grab it.” He was right.

11:53 p.m.

Back outside, Witt was confident his crowd, the one he had spent more than three hours taming, wouldn't cause trouble. “This line is having fun,” he said. Officer Dickinson cycled by again; this time he'd stick around through the rush.

It was 50 degrees outside but felt colder. A couple huddled under a blanket together.

A woman drove up and tossed a pair of pants to her sister, who scrambled to put them on over her shorts.

Someone piped up: “two minutes early won't hurt you.”

Finally, midnight

Suddenly, it's moving. The line inches toward the door and, after hours of waiting in the chilly fall air, shoppers are inside frantically snatching items off holiday displays.

Those still outside applaud and cheer as the first person exits, a giant TV box jutting from his cart.

There's a moment of confusion as he navigates the crowd, then disappears into the dark parking lot.

After 16 minutes, the line outside is gone. And Witt begins round two of his shift: keeping the peace inside.