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By choice or duty, last-minute Alle-Kiski Valley shoppers flock to stores

Mary Ann Thomas
| Saturday, Dec. 25, 2010

The long check-out lines. Store parking lots swarming with motorists searching for an empty space. And the clanking of carts drowning out verses from Bing Crosby's "White Christmas."

The hallmarks of last-minute shopping on Christmas Eve are as reliable a tradition as the holiday itself.

It's when the shoppers are purposeful and fast-footed.

And for many, it's when they choose to do their holiday shopping.

Undaunted by the fast approaching deadline, shoppers are accepting about the forced spree.

For Jacki Pitsch, 43, of Lower Burrell -- who was festive in a lighted Santa Claus hat in Wal-Mart at the Pittsburgh Mills in Frazier -- she's more than happy to shop on Christmas Eve.

With her cart quickly filling up with items for her husband, including Musk For Men, Pitsch says, "Got to have the cologne." And a three-pack of Paula Deen skillets.

"He does all the cooking," she explained.

Pitsch said she's not sweating the shopping and easily will make her next stop to pick up beer.

A number of shoppers seem to relish the trip out alone while everyone else is busy with holiday preparations.

"It's my day," said Terry Virostek, 44, of Kittanning. "It's when I get to take off by myself. And I get the last-minute stuff."

As he examined a blue dolphin pillow at the Pittsburgh Mills for his daughter Addisyn, Virostek admitted that another reason he enjoyed the last-minute shopping is that there isn't a whole lot of thinking involved.

But not everyone was happy to be out in the Christmas crunch.

Rebecca Hendershot, 25, of Penn Hills was shopping for her husband who she said is always the last on her list.

But the dutiful wife decided to help out her spouse by picking out software at Best Buy for printing artwork on personal items for herself.

Although thrilled with her gift, Hendershot said she never would shop on Christmas Eve again.

While mulling around in Wal-Mart earlier in the day, Hendershot's foot was run over by an elderly woman speeding with a cart.

"And she told me that it was my fault because I shouldn't have been standing there."

"There are grannies running around," she cautioned, "And the people are crazy."

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