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Shoppers brave bitter cold for Black Friday deals
black Friday pic2
Just after GameStop employees arrive and as the 12:01 a.m. opening nears, those at the front of the Black Friday line peer in excitedly.

For most people, Thanksgiving is a time for family, food, and festive gatherings.

For hundreds of Turlockers, however, it’s a time spent shivering in 30 degree temperatures in search of the best deals of the year. Black Friday drew shoppers from around the region to Turlock this year, in hopes of saving some money on a new TV, toaster, or video game console.

The duo at the head of the Target line—Chris Estrada and Justin Maranta, of Hilmar – left the warmth of their homes and still-full dinner plates at 4 p.m. to ensure their spot in line. The two called the nearby McDonalds to ask how long the line was, and upon hearing that two tents were already set up decided to end their Thanksgiving meal early.

The Target line was empty when they arrived, but both decided to brave the cold and stand in line until the 4 a.m. store opening.

“It’s not for nothing,” Maranta said. “We’re the first ones in line.”

Neither said they were big shoppers, normally, but were drawn to Target in search of a bargain. Both hoped to score a 40 inch 1080p Westinghouse LCD HDTV, on sale for $298, and possibly an Xbox 360 for $199 with a free $50 gift card.

“It’s a good deal,” Maranta said.

Maranta and Estrada had both gone Black Friday shopping before, but neither expected the biting chills of Thanksgiving night, which dropped to a low of 30 degrees according to the National Weather Service. Thanks to the support of family and friends, however, who arrived with freshly-baked brownies, thermoses of coffee, and Amp Energy – to stay awake until 4 a.m. – the two at the front of the line were able to withstand the frost.

Other, more seasoned shoppers, came prepared for the cold.

Charlie Arnett, 21, of Turlock, said he’s been Black Friday shopping since he was 12. He stood about 15 spots back of first, camped out in warm layers with a Nintendo DSi XL, the game “Animal Crossing: Wild World” for entertainment, and – most importantly – a double layer of socks. Most people think about warm coats, he said, but end up freezing their toes off.

Arnett looked to buy a 2 terabyte external hard drive for $69 – a deal you wouldn’t see any other time of the year and worth camping out for, he said.

“You get all the best deals,” Arnett said. “I don’t buy anything until Black Friday.”

A few feet away, Jesus Arguello of Ceres huddled for warmth inside a red Honda Civic with its heater cranked to high. He and a few friends took turns in the cold to save their spots – in hopes of a 46 inch 1080p Apex LCD HDTV for $449 – before running back to the warmth of the car.

The Target line of more than 200 shoppers donned blankets, gloves, and handwarmers to beat the cold. Some watched movies on laptop computers to pass the time.

Across the Monte Vista Crossings parking lot, in front of GameStop, Nathan DiTomasi of Turlock and his cousin Matt Nattziger of Fresno stood waiting for a 12:01 a.m. opening. The cousins left home around 10 p.m. so that DiTomasi could secure a Nintendo DS for a pending family trip.

“It’s kinda what I wanted, and it was on sale,” DiTomasi said.

Nattziger, however, wasn’t sure he’d buy anything once GameStop’s doors opened at midnight. He thought he might pick up a game if the price was right, but for Nattziger, Black Friday wasn’t about the deals.

“I just want the experience of it all.” Nattzinger said. “… I can cross it off the bucket list.”

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.