Edmee Dark of New Oxford stands in a check out line with her overfilled shopping cart after being one of the first shoppers at the Toys"R"Us
Edmee Dark of New Oxford stands in a check out line with her overfilled shopping cart after being one of the first shoppers at the Toys"R"Us Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012.
MORE PHOTOS (Bill Kalina)

Dressed in a colorful, knitted hat and fluorescent green lounge pants, Melisa Yohn wanted to remain visible to the friends and family who joined her to brave the Black Friday sales - most of which began on Thursday.

"At least you'll know who I am from the top and the bottom," she said.

The Shiloh resident traded a home-cooked meal for lunch at the Yorktowne Hotel so she could be in line by 2 p.m. for the 8 p.m. opening at Toys R Us along Kenneth Road in West Manchester Township.

"It cuts into Thanksgiving, but when you have three kids, you do what you got to do," Yohn said.

She wasn't alone; an hour before the toy store opened its doors, a long line of shoppers snaked past the neighboring Ollie's and toward the West Manchester Mall.

While Yohn waited in line six hours for "a little bit of everything," Skylanders were among the deals she hoped to snag for her three children, ages 3, 6 and 12.

Three sisters, who shop together every year, were also waiting for Skylanders.

"We've shopped together the last four years. This is our sister bonding time," said Halie Derr.

Derr and her sister Heidi Diperna traveled from Sunbury to visit their third sister, who lives in Dover. That sister didn't want to add any comment.

The ladies bumped up their Thanksgiving dinner time to noon - an hour earlier than usual - to be in the Toys R Us queue at 2 p.m.

It didn't matter that the store's 8 p.m. doorbusters caused the sisters to tweak their dinner plans, they said.

"We're all having a good time," Diperna said.

Another shopper in line, Khandi Williams, also changed her Thanksgiving plans to make it to the earlier sales this year, trading her dinner for deals.

"I haven't eaten yet," the Spring Garden Township resident said. "The house is decorated, though."

She has shopped Black Friday sales for the last seven years, and this year waited in line for various gifts for her 21- and 8-year-old children.

After Toys R Us, she planned to shop at Walmart and Justice.

"I'll probably eat my dinner at 3 a.m.," she said.

Chasta Strouse, a Dover Township mother of three, may have eaten her dinner at home, but she enjoyed her dessert in line at Target.

She arrived outside the West Manchester Township location on York Crossing Drive about 2:30 p.m. to be the first person in line for the store's 9 p.m. opening.

While waiting, she snacked on pumpkin and sweet potato pies, she said.

Strouse was on a mission to shop for her children, ages 8, 6 and 2, and she liked the Target's $150 price tag on a Nintendo 3DS.

"I wish they opened later so I had more time with family, but you do what you need to do for your kids," she said. "They're only young for so long, so you need to share that Christmas magic with them while you can."

Though Tracey Venable's kids are a little older now, at 22, 16 and 12, she finds her own magic in long lines outside of stores touting Black Friday deals.

"I love the excitement. It's the start of the Christmas season," said the Springettsbury Township resident.

In what was her sixth year of shopping the Black Friday sales, she said the shorter line was a likely indicator many people felt the way she did about the biggest shopping day of the season starting on Thanksgiving.

"There were a lot more here last year," she said.

I'm not diggin' it. It cuts into family time."

But her disappointment wasn't enough to keep her away from the discounts; she arrived outside Target to be the third person in a line that stretched alongside the building.

The deals on electronics were what inspired Red Lion resident Amy Hartman to participate in Black Friday sales for the first time ever.

She arrived in line at 4 p.m. to snag a 50-inch Westinghouse HDTV for $349 and pajamas for $10.

Just as Black Friday sales crept into Thursday, her Thanksgiving dinner was pushed up to Wednesday.

"I had Thanksgiving dinner with my kids and family last night so I wouldn't feel guilty about coming out here," Hartman said.

Inside Walmart at West Manchester Mall, however, some customers said they had guilt and regret.

"I left my family to get here early and wait in line, and everything is chaos," said LaVar Bentley, a York City resident.

Several aisles were blocked with caution tape as customers lined up to secure deals on electronics and other items - many of which were available at various intervals, such as 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Thursday, and 5 a.m. Friday.

A long line also formed for discounted movies, which were displayed near the dairy cases of the store.

"I'm here because the prices are great, but I don't know if all these lines are worth leaving my family," he said.

Dover Township resident Lisa Eyler agreed.

"Isn't it nuts what we'll put ourselves through to save $15 on a movie? Next year I'm not even trying to have Thanksgiving on Thursday. Since that's when stores are having sales now, I'll just move my Thanksgiving dinner to Friday," she said.

- Candy Woodall can also be reached at cwoodall@yorkdispatch.com.