They came in hordes and formed a line thousands long—the length of a strip mall, out around the corner, and north along LaGrange Road.
Amidst Black Friday excitement and rumors of a cameo by Ellen DeGeneres, eager shoppers and fans flocked to Best Buy in Orland Park on Thanksgiving, hoping to snag a prized purchase, and a glimpse of the talk show host.
Though DeGeneres did not appear and most might have been disappointed, one lucky family's day got a lot brighter.
A South Side family chosen from millions of contest entrants was treated to a Best Buy shopping spree and thousands of dollars in giftcards, courtesy of The Ellen Show. Members of the show's production staff were mum on how they chose the winning family, whose name is being withheld until the show airs Tuesday, Nov. 27.
“The family that was chosen is a mom and her daughter. She's a single mom, and they are the types of people who always give back and Ellen is always about positivity," said Jeannie Klisiewicz, correspondent for the show.
"She's all about people that might be going through a rough time, but beyond that they want to give back the good that does come to them, and that's how this family is.”
During the taping of the show, Klisiewicz escorted the family into the store and turned them loose to scoop up as many electronic goodies as they wished. Although the show would not confirm a total of goods and giftcards the family received, they filled four shopping carts with loot.
Show staff then switched to taping in the parking lot, where a large crowd was gathered to participate in three games that will air on the show. Each game pitted random contestants against each other with the winners—and losers—each receiving Best Buy giftcards worth various amounts.
“It's really neat to get to do this. … We gave away over $50,000 in Best Buy gift cards,” Klisiewicz said. “That is huge. What was really neat about this one is that it was spread out. … This was really cool that we got to give away to 10, 20, 30, I think we gave it away to 30 or 40 people.”
Fans of the show were slightly disappointed though, as earlier mysterious tweets from the show's Twitter account alluded to a surprise many assumed would include an encounter with the dancing funny lady herself.
“We thought that Ellen was going to be here,” said Melissa Smyth, 20, of New Lenox. “We're a little upset that she isn't going to be here, but we're still in line and we're still going to get all the things we wanted.”
Klisiewicz said that Ellen was at home with her family, and that she was more than happy to fill in.
The show's presence more than doubled the crowd outside the store in the hours leading up to Black Friday. At its peak Thursday night, nearly 5,000 people waited; in years past, approximately 2,000 people fell in line.
Klisiewicz applauded the shoppers' dedication, but admitted that she wouldn't normally be found near a store on Thanksgiving.
“I would be at home eating a cookie right now, I would not be standing trying to get something,” she said. “I'd be too busy eating my mom's chocolate chip cookies and watching the Thanksgiving Day parade.”
Tune in to The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Tuesday, Nov. 27 to learn the identity of the family that was chosen, and watch the local residents caught on film.
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