Millions #OptOutside on Black Friday

DENVER —Millions of Americans ditched shopping for the outdoors Friday to mark the second year of the #OptOutside campaign.

Among those enjoying the day at Cherry Creek State Park in suburban Denver were Stuart Urban and his son Everett, 15. Like some other states, Colorado offered free admission to all state parks on Friday, and the low-hanging sun sparkled on the water of Cherry Creek Lake as kids played and dogs barked.

“It’s fabulous,” Stuart Urban said between casts. “Look at that view. I’ve got my son, and the sun is out. It’s a beautiful day.”

Outdoor retailer REI sparked the movement, and for the second time shuttered its physical and online stores for Black Friday, giving about 12,000 employees a paid day off so they could hit the trails, slopes or rivers. They were joined by an estimated 2.7 million people who’ve pledged to participate across the country, taking advantage of free park admission in at least 13 states and free rides to parks in five cities.

About 540 organizations, from the Alaska Wilderness League to the Yosemite Conservancy, helped organize events, and companies from Subaru to Google to prAna used their social media to fuel interest. The National Park Service is also using its sway to encourage Americans to visit parks.

Answering the call of the great outdoors are six nonprofits focused on increasing diversity in outside activities, from Black Girls Run to Outdoor Afro.

The Urbans confined their Friday morning shopping to lures and other fishing supplies, intending to shop online later that evening.

College student Chloe Tyler said she did a little bit of shopping earlier in the week, but reserved Friday for family. Walking at the park with her grandmother and five young relatives under the age of 11, Tyler said she hoped the great outdoors would help burn off a little of yesterday’s Thanksgiving dinner. But no shopping today?

“I didn’t want to go to the mall,” she said. “That’s too crazy for me.”

REI officials say they’ve deliberately avoided trying to figure out how being closed on Black Friday has affected the co-op’s bottom line, but noted they’ve seen a significant increase in job applications following the first #OptOutside event.

Copyright 2016 KUSA


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