People opt for Santa Cruz County park over malls on Black Friday

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Some people made a conscious decision to avoid the Black Friday crowds and spent the day outdoors. It was part of a campaign by an environmental group that enticed people by offering free admission to a park.

This is exactly what the Save The Redwoods League wanted to see -- state and national parks in the West filled with visitors, instead of doing Black Friday shopping. The league provided several hundred free passes.

Sunnyvale resident Eric Angel told ABC7 News, "There's plenty of shopping days, so I think just extending Thanksgiving and having another day with the family is nice."

Big Basin is the state's oldest park. With 80 miles of hiking trails, the trails can accommodate large numbers. However, the parking lot can't. It was the price of success, getting people to enjoy the outdoors.

"You're getting away from the shopping, the crowds. Well, you're coming into another crowd, but in the nature, it is beautiful here," Big Basin Park Ranger Haidee Andersen said.

Still, volunteer docent Barry Grimm, a retired NASA engineer, couldn't be happier to see many new faces peering up at the tall trees and learning how even dead trees put out new growth.

"This is an amazing... it's almost a miracle, that this much wild land was protected so long ago, and it's so close to megalopolis over the hill," Grimm said.

There is so much history in the park. For example, one giant redwood fell in January of 1983, an El Nino winter. Who knows what the forces of nature will do here at Big Basin this winter?

Many visitors are hoping a new post-Thanksgiving tradition is taking root.

"This is what people should be doing on Friday. I like when people like REI close on Friday, other places close on Friday. That's the way to go. It should motivate people to come outside, enjoy the redwoods," San Jose resident Cristhian Castillo said.
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