MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — While many Minnesotans spent Black Friday shopping for bargains, state parks were also packed.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources waived fees to enter all 75 state parks.
The initiative was meant to encourage people to get outside for “Free Park Friday.”
Fort Snelling State Park in St. Paul was a lot busier than usual, according to park staff.
Phil Orme and his daughter, Marisa Brouse, were out enjoying some quality time together on Friday afternoon.
“It has been a lot of years since I really hit the state parks,” Orme said.
The duo said they usually skip shopping on Black Friday, but they would not have thought to visit the parks without the free offer.
“I thought it was a really cool idea, something different to do,” Brouse said. “Promotes a nice, healthy environment and healthy lifestyle.”
The DNR says most Minnesotans live within 30 miles of a state park. Outdoor gear retailer REI also asked people to get outside on Black Friday. The retailer closed its 143 stores and gave employees a paid day off.
Bloomington store employee Brian Harrower says he was thrilled to be able to relax on a day that is normally very hectic for him.
“I’ve been in retail since I was 18 years old and I’ve worked every Black Friday since then — 27 or 28 or them,” Harrower said.
He walked through Fort Snelling State Park with his wife, Robyn, and their 12-year-old son, Jackson.
“I think that we’ve touched a nerve with a lot of people that say, ‘You know what? I can shop anytime. We don’t need to buy into the hysteria, and let’s do something different,'” Harrower said.
Harrower and his wife called their time as a family the best deal of the day.