BURLINGTON – Neomi Ponce and Jerry Herrera browsed through clothing near the entrance of JCPenney on Friday afternoon, big bags of purchased gifts in tow.
They had bounced from store to store inside Cascade Mall since 7 a.m., stocking up on holiday gifts for their large family.
“We are going crazy,” Ponce said. “We save money all year long for this. We’ve got a lot of grandkids, a lot of family.”
Of course, this is not a normal holiday season for Burlington’s popular shopping mall.
Five people were shot and killed Sept. 23 inside Macy’s. The suspect in the shooting is being held in Skagit County Jail on $2 million bail.
The tragedy jarred Skagit County, but also showed the community’s strength. Several events were held in the wake of the shooting, including a candlelight vigil along Burlington Boulevard and a mall walk.
Supportive notes written by those who attended that mall walk Sept. 28 still line many of the storefronts.
“We continue to be encouraged by all the support we get from the community,” said mall Marketing Manager Jenny O’Brien.
On Friday, shoppers packed the mall, supporting the businesses with their wallets.
Cheri Brown of Seattle started shopping at 6 a.m. and described a busy scene.
“It was mayhem,” she said. “Everywhere was really busy.”
By noon, she said she’d made three trips to her car to put gifts in her trunk.
“My trunk is full,” she said. “I did all right, but my bank account didn’t do all right.”
Macy’s and JCPenney were the only Cascade Mall stores open on Thanksgiving Day.
JCPenney General Manager Caleb Boots said the Thanksgiving Day sales were well attended.
“We had lines at every single store entrance,” he said. “It was way busier than last year for us.”
Despite five hours of shopping, Ponce and Herrera weren’t slowing down, with several more stops inside Cascade Mall planned.
“We aren’t done yet,” Herrera said. “We are just going down this main stretch here. It’s been hectic, but fun.”
Added Ponce, “This is an annual tradition.”
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