King of Prussia residents brace for 500,000 shoppers this weekend

Officer Harry Nuskey of the Upper Merion Police Department points to monitors used to keep an eye on parking lot outside the King of Prussia Mall (Rob Zawatski for NewsWorks)

Officer Harry Nuskey of the Upper Merion Police Department points to monitors used to keep an eye on parking lot outside the King of Prussia Mall (Rob Zawatski for NewsWorks)

Black Friday madness signals the start of the holiday shopping season. This year, over the four-day Thanksgiving  weekend more than 500,000 people are expected make their way to King of Prussia in Upper Merion Township, home of the second largest mall in the nation.

For a community with a population around 20,000 people, the influx of traffic can be daunting.This will bee the second holiday season for Heather Francis since moved to King of Prussia about one year ago. She knew living by the mall meant having to deal with the irritation of extra traffic. She said she knows what to expect and plans accordingly.

“Interstate 76, all of the exits coming into King of Prussia will probably be pretty jammed and the 202 backed up, particularly around Mall Boulevard and, you know, Allendale Road.” Francis said, “We are avoiding 202 at all costs.”

Kathy Smith, Director of Marketing & Business Development for the King of Prussia Mall, said they are working closely with the town and the local police on traffic management and add exterior security patrol units to help keep traffic flowing smoothly.

Upper Merion Police Officer Harry Nuskey says the department will do everything it can to get people where they need to go but encourages residents to be proactive when they travel.

“What would be a good idea to do is to travel off-peak hours, take back roads,” he said.

While some residents are preparing for the worst-case scenario when it comes to holiday traffic, Kathy Tierney isn’t buying the hype. She has lived in King of Prussia for more than 40 years. She said it seems like fewer and fewer people are making the pilgrimage to the Montgomery County’s shopping Mecca.

“To be honest, I think the Black Friday traffic is much less than it used to be because so many people shop online that they don’t go crowding into the stores as much as they used to,” she said

Try telling that to anyone looking for parking.

Smith said there are more than 13,000 spots available in the mall’s parking lot. To help ensure customers are able to get the most convenient spaces, employees are instructed to park in designated areas far from the doors.

Officer Nuskey said even though there are enough spots for everyone in the acres of lots, the stress of the holidays can lead to agitation and aggravation. He urges people to be exercise understanding with each other.

“One of the things I like to tell people about coming out here at holiday season, be patient, be kind,” he said.

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