Skates. I wish I had skates.

That’s what I thought as I padded down the nearly deserted far end of the Bay City Mall, hoping Target had opened up. (Sadly, no.) My daughter and I spent Saturday night there for the annual Girl Scout Mall Madness lock-in.

Her Midland Cadette troop is small but tight, and includes a core of girls who have been together since Daisies. I expected most of the mall night participants to come from the Tri-Cities, and was surprised to meet leaders from troops as far as Gaylord and Holly.

Why weren’t they in Midland? To be fair, Midland Mall and Fashion Square Mall have hosted mall nights, too. Sometimes all three take turns in a year.

The Bay City Mall, though, has an added attraction: its own theater. Votes were cast, and the girls chose the 2:30 a.m. showing of “Hoot” over “Charlotte’s Web” and “Flicka.” I went, but had to skip out of the last 15 minutes or so to be on time for my shift stuffing breakfast sandwiches into sacks. Even without being told, though, I’m pretty sure the owls won.

The girls go for the shopping, of course. Aeropostale was popular, and Claire’s was absolutely packed.

The stores close at 9 p.m. as usual, and those that choose to participate reopen at 10. A list at check-in tells what specials are being offered and when stores will close, with many shutting their gates at 2. There was some flexibility, though; FYE planned to close at 12:30 but didn’t actually pull its gate until 1.

What I didn’t get was why some stores chose to skip. We were sorry not to have Target open, but we understood why it and other anchor stores were closed, because they had such large areas to staff. But small, teen-oriented stores such as Pac Sun and Hollister stayed shut too, and we were with girls with money burning holes in their pockets and limited options.

Heading past the busiest spots, the mall was clear in a way I rarely see, and I wished for skates to go zipping down and back. Instead I trudged in sneakers, cursing the lack of cappuccino since I’d been up since about 4:15 a.m. thanks to noisy hunters.

We left the mall at 5 a.m. Sunday, just catching the hunters at our corner as they left for another round. We offered quick tales before the turkeys beckoned them away, and let ourselves back into the house, me to plunk in front of the computer to update the news website, my daughter on the couch to read. She refused to sleep until her regular bedtime that night, but I shooed her off the couch at 6:30 for a seven-hour nap and woke just before the hunters arrived home.

The lock-ins are the only way I can imagine spending seven straight hours at a mall again. Next time, I’ll bring my own caffeine.

This post originally appeared on, the online home of the Midland (MI) Daily News. Republished with permission.

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