The Department of Natural Resources has decided to waive all admission fees on the day after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday. The tradition started in 2015 in hopes to inspire families to bond hiking instead of spending the day in malls and store aisles.
All 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas, except for the few closed to due to low staffing and special hunts, will be emitting the $7 fee for a one-day vehicle permit. Leaders of the state parks advertised the deal by motivating people to come as a way to burn off calories from Thanksgiving dinner while continuing the quality family time the holiday season represents. The average American consumes about 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving, but an hour-long brisk walk will burn about 300 calories. The DNR advertises on their website that walking not only burns calories but also increases creativity, brain function, flexibility, and stamina. Using hashtags such as #FreeParkFriday and #OnlyinMN, the DNR encourages you to share your Free Park Friday adventure on social media.
The REI Co-op also began motivating people to go outside instead of Black Friday shopping the same year with their #OptOutside campaign. They started the tradition of closing their doors and website on Black Friday. Anyone who attempted to online-shop on their website was met with hundreds of photos of people who opted to go outside. This year, REI decided to go one step further and update their campaign to “Opt to Act”. They’re hosting over a hundred cleanups across the country, and offer an instruction guide to completing a cleanup with a group of friends. Their goal is to give people a way to step out of the linear economy that Black Friday engages with and step into a more circular economy. REI encourages you to help them spread the word by sharing pictures of your cleanup of social media with #OptOutside.
A few state parks are hosting organized hikes for people of all ages. They include the “Turkey Hike” from 10-11 a.m. at Whitewater State Park, “Falls Tour” from 10-11 a.m. at Gooseberry Falls State Park, “Children’s Storytime: Turkey Trouble” from 1-2 p.m. at Lake Bemidji State Park, “Step Off that Stuffing Hike” from 1-2 p.m. at Interstate State Park, and “Falconry: The Sport of Kings” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Tettegouche State Park and again from 2-3:30 p.m. at Gooseberry Falls State Park.
The DNR has made it easy and free to spend a day appreciating the underappreciated environment and boycotting the linear economy that is known to contribute to climate change. Instead of spending the day in cramped malls and in front of computer screens, families now have the opportunity to take a step outside and onto one of the many beautiful Minnesota State Park trails.