SHOPPERS walk along Main Street shortly after midnight today. Many stores throughout Maine opened their doors at midnight today, marking the official start to the Christmas shopping season. Today, known as Black Friday, is traditionally a day that merchants make a large portion of their profits for the year.

SHOPPERS walk along Main Street shortly after midnight today. Many stores throughout Maine opened their doors at midnight today, marking the official start to the Christmas shopping season. Today, known as Black Friday, is traditionally a day that merchants make a large portion of their profits for the year.

FREEPORT

Hundreds of shoppers queued up in front of the town’s outlet stores this morning, hunched into coats and swilling coffee and cocoa, talking and texting while they waited to officially begin the holiday shopping season.

Although Maine state law prohibits retail stores greater than 5,000 square feet to be open on Thanksgiving, many smaller stores also remained closed so employees could celebrate Thanksgiving with their families.

But once the clock struck midnight, it was every merchant for him- or herself.

About 11:30 p.m. Thursday, Kathleen Meade; Mabel, an 8-year-old yellow Lab; and Louise Gorman, all local residents, perched on a bench in front of L.L. Bean’s flagship store and people watched while they decided how much, if any, shopping they would do.

For her part, Mabel just sniffed hopefully at people as they passed. She gazed up at everybody and graciously accepted pats on the head or ear-scratches.

“We come every year,” Gorman said. “It’s fun just to sit and watch. You never know what you’re going to see.”

Moments after a Harleyriding Santa roared past, a teenager also dressed as the Jolly Old Elf rattled by on a long skateboard.

“At least I know it’s not my son,” Gorman said. “We don’t have a Santa suit.”

The revelry was part of Moonlight Madness, sponsored by FreeportUSA, the town’s economic promoter. While not as mobbed as events at malls or in larger towns, legions of post-pie revelers roamed Freeport’s sidewalks or marked their time in lines, checking watches or wireless phones every few minutes.

As midnight approached and temperatures dropped, a blanket of ground fog slicked the brick sidewalks and asphalt roadways with patches of black ice. A town salt-spreading truck looped up and down Maine Street, as well as in and around the busy parking lots, and pedestrians began to more carefully examine their footsteps.

Down the block, in front of Abercrombie and Fitch, Matt Kozlowsky had driven to town from his home in Windham. He was here to shop, as well as to lend support to his cousin, Ben Cavallero, one of the store’s managers.

“We’re here for Ben, but I’m looking for some good deals, too,” Kozlowsky said. “Plus, I’m pretty sure that we saw Santa get pulled over for a traffic stop or a DUI or something a few minutes ago.” However, not everybody decided to loiter just for the fun of it as Thursday turned to Friday.

Topsham’s Autumn Becker, home on winter break from Emmanuel College in Boston, staffed the hot dog and juice cart adjacent to Village Station’s entrance. With a toboggan hat on her head and hunkered into her jacket, she handed out drinks and snacks to munchy shoppers, biding her time until 3 a.m. when she could close up the cart.

“This is the first time I’ve been here for Moonlight Madness,” Becker said. “It’s not too bad; I’ve been kind of busy.”

She was scheduled to be back on duty at noon today.

“They’re expecting a pretty busy weekend,” she said.

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