Mall at UTC

Some area teenagers camp out all night near Mall at University Town Center for a chance to win free gifts

UNIVERSITY PARK -- The opening of The Mall at University Town Center on Thursday morning became a 12-hour sleep-in for some young Lakewood Ranch-area residents.

A group of five, 19-year-old friends say they were led to believe there would be significant giveaways in the form of gift cards for the grand opening, so they decided to spend the night near the mall in order to be the first on line to receive them.

Camped out near Benderson Park, south of the mall, the young men arrived on Wednesday evening about 8 p.m., left briefly to get some McDonald's for dinner, and returned to a long night ahead with none of the comforts of home.

"It was interesting. We played music but then it got really boring after a while. We went to get food, came back, and that's about it," said Chandler Welch of Bradenton.

Welch said they were told they couldn't camp out in the mall parking lot until 6 the next morning, so they chose the next best location. But a few friends who thought they heard on the radio there would be some cash gift cards apparently led them astray.

"I'm a little aggravated. I came here by word-of-mouth but I found out you really don't get much. I could be asleep right now," Welch said, who was camped out at the head of the line to enter the new Macy's when it officially opened for business at 9 a.m.

His buddy, Cody Leggett was a little more optimistic when he heard he would receive a free $10 card as one of the first of 400 visitors to arrive at the new Macy's store.

"I guess my friend got the wrong information. I'm going to take the $10 and save it," he said.

Kathryn Moschella, Lakewood Ranch reporter can be reached at 941-745-7010. Follow her on Twitter