Last-minute holiday shoppers crowd Manatee stores

ejohnson@bradenton.comDecember 22, 2012 

MANATEE -- With Christmas just days away, shoppers turned out in full swing Saturday to buy last-minute holiday gifts.

With five children, including two sets of twins, Cathy Radanovich understandably does most of her Christmas shopping online, but she was among the crowd at DeSoto Square mall.

"Just getting out of the house is a challenge," Radanovich said. "To get them dressed and fed, it took about three hours to leave the house."

With her husband, Peter, at her side, the couple entertained Christian and Peter, 4; Catherine, 2; and Cristiana and Pierson, 5 months, while waiting in line for a photo with Santa Claus.

"This is the last of it," said Radanovich, who began her Christmas shopping in early November. "We want it to be done by Tuesday."

Kara Kimball scooted through the Santa line with her 5-year-old daughter, Keleah, keeping surrounding kids occupied with toys.

"We were picking up last-minute gifts and stocking stuffers. I did the bulk of my shopping on Black Friday," said Kimball, with several

Bath and Body Works bags at her side. "Then we saw Santa and had to stop."

Planning on grabbing a couple items after Santa photos, Billie Schmucker was with her daughter-in-law, Heather, and grandchildren Danica, 6, and Isaiah, 3. "I'll finish mine today," Heather Schmucker said.

"I'll get it done tomorrow with my husband," said Billie Schmucker, who begins her shopping on Dec. 26 each year. "He likes to get the boys stuff."

While Schmucker's husband likes the shopping, other men sat on benches, guarding bags. A few were startled awake when their wives returned. The food court was crowded with shoppers taking a break to eat. And outside, drivers circled the parking lot looking for the closest spot.

Security is increased at the mall for the holiday crowds and extended mall hours. Macy's is open 24 hours a day until Christmas Eve night.

Also open around theclock until 10 p.m. Monday is Toys R Us, where parents and grandparents emptied bags and boxes from their carts into their trunks.

Al and Kathy Truitt were finishing shopping for their nine grandchildren, ages 6 to 14. "We set up a budget for each child. You have tomake sure it's even with grandbabies because they'll notice," Kathy Truitt said.

Toys R Us had a lot of employees handling the crowd, the Truitts said, adding they had to make one last stop at Walmart for an American Girl doll.

"They always say, 'We want an iPad, a Wii 2.' They want the $500 stuff," Al Truitt said.

"We're not the Trumps," Kathy chimed in with a laugh.

Amanda Berglund had her cart loaded with Thomas the Train toys and her three children: Madelyn, 5; Grace, 3; and Cole, 2.

"We're shopping in be-tween gymnastics," Berglund said. "I'm buying for some of their cousins and some of the kids. The grandparents are flying in today from Iowa."

Despite crazy last-minute shopping and a hectic holiday season, Berglund breathed a sigh of relief that her gift-buying was finished. "We're done," she said.

Elizabeth Johnson, Herald reporter can be reached at 941-745-7041.

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