Wide-eyed on Black Friday

The Glendale Galleria teemed with shoppers at the dawn of Black Friday, some from as far away as Mexico, in search of early-bird deals.

When the mall officially opened at 5 a.m., caffeinated, sleepy-eyed shoppers continued their quest to finish their holiday spending spree before the sun had even risen.

Desiree Garzona, 15, and Lauren Vasquez, 16, both of Glendale, arrived at 1 a.m. to go to the Disney Store opening and still had more shopping to do.

"I don't know how we're still awake; we're just so hyper," Desiree said.

The girls helped pick out Christmas presents for family members and visited Forever 21 when it opened at 3 a.m.

Some of the most serious shoppers felt their adrenaline begin to wane before sunrise.

Jenny Diaz came all the way from Cuerna Vaca, Mexico, to go shopping on Black Friday. She was seated in the middle of about a dozen retail bags stuffed to the brim waiting for her sister outside Victoria's Secret.

"This is only my first cup of coffee," Diaz said. "I think I need about 10 more so I can keep shopping."

Ruth Sicat, of Burbank, took a break to rest her tired feet. Shoes off, she surrounded herself with her shopping bags on a bench in a busy walkway in the Galleria.

"I have most of my holiday shopping done, but there's still more to do," she said. "Just not today."

Glendale Galleria representatives said they were surprised at the amount of traffic in the mall, which at 10 a.m. was double the flow from the holiday spending spree seen last year.

The Glendale Police Department reported no traffic problems, citing signal timing to ease the flow of shoppers around the Galleria and Americana at Brand.

While it was near impossible to find a spot at the Galleria parking garage, a different scene greeted shoppers at the Burbank Town Center.

At 6 a.m., only the occasional shopper graced Burbank's main shopping center, despite the promise of goodie bags with special discounts and offers when the doors opened.

While customers rushed through the opened doors of stores like Apple and Tilly's for early discounts, the atmosphere remained relaxed in Burbank throughout the morning, but picked up after the sun came up, officials reported.

"Traffic is strong, and we are hearing good reports from our retailers today for the kick-off of the holiday season," said Betsy Miringoff, a marketing manager for the center. "We are seeing a lot of shopping bags in customers' hands."

Burlington Coat Factory, which opened last week to a line around the block, reported a steady stream of customers Friday morning.

"Being an apparel store, we usually expect a big crowd around 10 or 11 a.m. after the customers go for the early electronic deals," store manager Lisa Collins said. "Lines are steady but lengthy, and the employees are ready to handle them now that they have a week under their belts."

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