ATLANTA - Metro Atlanta shoppers put the turkey and pie in the refridgerator and headed out to stores and malls officially starting the holiday shopping season.
Channel 2 Action News had crews spread across the area, where stores opened as early as 5 p.m. for Black Friday shopping.
Parking lots were reported at nearly 90 percent full at Town Center, Mall of Georgia and Lenox Square after midnight.
Inside the Best Buy in Alpharetta, employees were excited to spend their Thanksgiving with people who spent more than 24 hours waiting in line for Black Friday deals.
Police were on standby in case of any mayhem.
"The lines didn't really wrap around like they did last year," said Daniel Mara.
The new earlier store hours and the cold weather this year may be a factor for smaller crowds.
The cold temps didn't stop a small but eager crowd at the J.C. Penney's at North Point Mall.
"It's fun, it's really fun. Just one day, you go rush and grab things," said shopper Brittany Wallace.
But for Mara, the wait was worth it to get a present for his
"We will be seeing her for the first time since she was deployed to Afghanistan," Mara told Channel 2's Rachel Stockman.
As doors opened at Best Buy, Stockman followed Mara as he made a mad dash around the store looking for his
"I haven't seen her in about a year, and I miss her a lot. Me and her are really close so, brings me chills, miss her a lot," Mara said about being able to find his gift for his sister.
The Macy's Great Tree lighting drew thousands Thursday evening, and many of those folks went right into shopping mode to continue for another holiday tradition.
In the sea of thousands of people out to witness the 66th Annual Macy's Great Tree lighting, Channel 2's Carl Willis found Howard Achoe and his family.
He told Willis he was thankful Thursday because he just returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. The soldier is now in Fort Gordon going through medical rehab, but went to Macy's to make a new Thanksgiving Day tradition with his family.
"This is a perfect treat for me and my family getting back," Achoe said.
"This is our first time so bring out our 6-year-old. He's looking forward to seeing the tree," said Kimberly Achoe, Howard's wife.
Willis watched as shoppers streamed into Macy's Lenox Square one hour early to catch the deals.
"The official kickoff for the holiday shopping season," said Brian Williams with Macy's at Lenox Square.
Achoe said he's just happy to be with the people he loves.
"It's truly a blessing to be back home," Howard Achoe said.
The Lenox Macy's will stay open overnight and through Friday until midnight.
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