It was one of the best bare-knuckle brawls the seasoned cop had ever seen.
Two women going toe-to-toe in the children’s department at Walmart. It was a winner-take-all, Black Friday battle royale for the undisputed possession of … a cute pair of Hello Kitty pajamas.
“It was a pretty good tussle,” recalled Brimfield Police Chief David Oliver. “I’m not going to kid ya. I was a little shocked when I got to the center of the crowd and at the bottom of the pile was two females and below them was a pair of Hello Kitty pajamas.
“Evidently, it was the last pair and they both swore they each grabbed it at the same time and they weren’t going to give them up and down to the floor they went.”
Nothing says Christmas like Black Friday battles over blow-out bargains and mall parking spaces.
And battle scenes are one reason why police officers have joined Kris Kringle, the Salvation Army kettle and inflatable reindeer on the holiday shopping landscape.
And since patience is not on anyone’s Christmas list, Black Friday is beginning a few hours earlier this year on Thanksgiving night.
Stores such as Walmart and Target are set to open Thursday night with “Door Buster” sales events, and police are ready to open with them. To meet the rush, the two Big Box stores have hired off-duty officers in local cities, including Brimfield and Fairlawn, to help with crowd control, traffic and civil obedience.
Heaven knows, we don’t need anymore Hello Kitty Smackdown main events.
Walmart has hired four off-duty Brimfield officers, who will work 10-hour shifts beginning Thanksgiving night.
“It’s always an interesting night, I’m not going to kid you,” Oliver said. “Some of the things you see and hear. And it’s true. Anybody that’s been out on Black Friday will tell you. If you want to see a mob mentality, line up 200 people and have them all going for the 10 computers selling for $100 each. It can really turn into a frenzy.
“So we do a lot of reassuring: Everybody stay calm. No stomping.”
A police presence [not presents] will be apparent in Montrose, where Bath Township, Copley Township and Fairlawn converge in one of the region’s largest shopping meccas. With thousands of cars carrying thousands of shoppers on state Route 18, police say keeping the traffic flowing is always their greatest challenge.
“Black Friday is obviously the biggest influx of traffic, and the rest of the season is usually pretty busy,” said Copley Police Chief Michael Mier. “But it just seems Black Friday is the worst.”
Copley intends to have its share of officers in the area throughout the holiday season. Some will drive in their cruisers, others in unmarked cars. They will especially monitor parking lots to discourage thefts. Mier said some officers will even ride bikes, weather permitting, to help keep shoppers safe and traffic flowing.
“But there’s not a lot you can do. It’s just a large volume of traffic,” he said.
Off-duty Fairlawn police officers have been hired by Walmart and Target to aid with their major sales events, said Police Chief Kenneth Walsh. In addition, the chief said the department will be running maximum patrols throughout the commercial areas.
Along with Montrose, his department will also cover Summit Mall and several strip malls along West Market Street. Walsh said his department is well-versed in the holiday season rush and how to respond.
“We’re just going to do the best job we can,” Walsh said.
Phil Trexler can be reached at 330-996-3717 or firstname.lastname@example.org.