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Morning Watch: Malls are largely quiet as Black Friday shopping wanes

It was quiet at the Westfield Brandon Mall early on Black Friday. Shoppers reporting little if any wait times. [ALLI KNOTHE | Times]

It was quiet at the Westfield Brandon Mall early on Black Friday. Shoppers reporting little if any wait times. [ALLI KNOTHE | Times]

Here's what's new around the bay area this morning.

LIVE NOW: A RELATIVELY QUIET BLACK FRIDAY ACROSS TAMPA BAY

Long lines and frantic shoppers were nearly nonexistent around Tampa Bay area malls over Thanksgiving weekend, continuing the deflating Black Friday shopping trend we've seen over the past couple of years. As big box stores like Walmart, Best Buy and others have pushed their Black Friday sales hours earlier into Thanksgiving Day (some opened as early as 5 p.m. on Thursday this year,) it seems the hype of what Black Friday used to be has become overrated.

AS TOURISM SURGES, RICK SCOTT'S MARKETING EFFORTS FOR FLORIDA COME UNDER ATTACK

There is hardly a speech by Gov. Rick Scott that doesn't include praise for the state's growing number of jobs over the last six years or the state's record tourism. But incoming Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran has already said he's against further funding for Scott's cherished jobs incentive program. Now he's taking aim at the state's tourism marketing arm. Visit Florida has seen its budget grow from about $29 million to more than $78 million since 2009, a 169 percent increase in spending. Meanwhile, the number of tourists in Florida has grown from about 82 million to more than 106 million, a 29 percent increase during the same period.

EFFORT SEEKS TO PRESERVE HISTORY OF ST. PETERSBURG'S WEEKLY CHALLENGER NEWSPAPER

Work at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg is underway to create a digital archive of the Weekly Challenger, which has served the city's black community for almost 50 years. The initiative aims to catalogue issues of the paper in an online archive, while also helping Lyn Johnson and eventually other publishers of black newspapers in Florida operate in today's digital media age.

A TAMPA COMMUNITY SLIDES INTO HISTORY AS LAST RESIDENTS DEPART

As recently as 2015, the sprawling 44-acre North Boulevard Homes, a West Tampa public housing complex. thrummed with the laughter, joy, angst and heartache of more than 2,000 residents who lived in the small military-barrack style homes with no air-conditioning. It was a life of block parties and porch conversations, a place marred by crime but blessed by community spirit. Now, just a handful of families are left in the 820-unit complex.

WHEN TO WATCH 'FROZEN,' 'RUDOLPH,' 'CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS,' MORE HOLIDAY CLASSICS, SPECIALS

New Line Cinema

Throughout the month of December on Freeform, watch Will Ferrell as Buddy in Elf.

There still might be Thanksgiving leftovers in the fridge and the number on the thermostat probably doesn't read cool enough for sweaters, but the holiday season has officially started. And what better way to spend the mild Florida winter evenings than with a hefty slate of Christmas TV specials? Here's a complete rundown.

WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEKEND: NEW 'GILMORE GIRLS,' CHRISTMAS TV SPECIALS

The turkey has been stuffed and picked to pieces, the kitchen counter is sticky from spilled cranberry sauce and there's enough pumpkin pie leftover for a decadent Black Friday brunch. What better way to spend a long, indulgent weekend than with movies, Christmas specials and new episodes of Gilmore Girls?

BAYFRONT CEO RAISES CONCERNS ABOUT FREE FOOD FOR PARAMEDICS

Most Pinellas County hospitals offer paramedics free drinks. Some provide snacks. At least one gives the first responders free meal vouchers worth $8. County officials cannot point to specific examples of paramedics rushing patients past one hospital in favor of better food at another. But it's enough of a concern that administrators asked the Pinellas County Commission earlier this week to tweak a contract with an ambulance provider to ban medics from "accepting free or discounted meals or food" at health care facilities.

HOLIDAY HOPES: THIS ST. PETERSBURG FAMILY HAS THE DRIVE, JUST NOT A CAR

In late September, Zeneta Jackson, Willie Hairston and their five children — along with nearly 400 others — were evicted from the Mosley Motel on 34th Street. Zeneta and Willie, who had been living at the motel for 19 months, attended social service workshops sponsored by the city and were eligible to receive money to pay the deposit and half of the first month's rent on a three bedroom house in Midtown. The home will cost them almost $200 less per month than the small room at the Mosley. Yet they feel blessed and grateful for the help.

Special to the Times | ANDY WARRENER

Northside Christian coach Mike Alstott chats with his son and QB Griffin during a playoff win over Cambridge Christian.

JONES: MIKE ALSTOTT'S PASSION PAYS OFF FOR HIS SON AND NORTHSIDE CHRISTIAN

Mike Alstott has played in dozens of big games in his career, Tom Jones writes. Big games. He's the A-Train, maybe the most popular player in Tampa Bay Buccaneers history. He won a Super Bowl. He was a six-time Pro Bowl fullback. Now he's a high school football coach at Northside Christian, and he's getting his Mustangs ready for the Class 2A state semifinals.

CONWAY NOTES OPPOSITION TO ROMNEY IN CABINET WHILE TRUMP TRIES TO SAVE JOBS IN U.S.

President-elect Donald Trump didn't take off all of Thanksgiving Day while enjoying a long holiday weekend with his family at his Mar-a-Lago estate, saying he was working to keep the makers of Carrier air conditions from relocating from Indianapolis to Mexico. Meanwhile, his transition team was stepping up its effort to raise money for inaugural festivities and Trump offered a holiday prayer for a politically divided nation, even as a controversy swirled around his consideration of onetime fierce critic Mitt Romney for his Cabinet.

Morning Watch: Malls are largely quiet as Black Friday shopping wanes 11/25/16 [Last modified: Friday, November 25, 2016 8:49am]
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