Feb 24, 2012, 1:30 PM EDT
Among my favorite phrases ever is “shoe melee.” And there was a good, old-fashioned one on Thursday night in Orlando, as riot police, cops on horseback and at least one helicopter had to disperse a crowd that rushed a Foot Locker store prior to a scheduled Nike shoe release. The event featured the new Nike Foamposite Galaxy glow-in-the-dark basketball shoe.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, a restless crowd was asked by police to wait across the street from the store as employees inside prepared for the release event, scheduled at midnight. But since that was three hours away, some in the crowd decided they couldn’t wait.
Witnesses told the Orlando Sentinel that the crowd was asked to wait across the street when the mall closed at 9 p.m., but one person made a mad dash toward the Foot Locker where the shoes were to go on sale, and hundreds followed.
“I saw hundreds of people running toward me. I thought I was going to get trampled,” said Amanda Charles, 20, who was among a group of a half-dozen friends who drove from Jacksonville to try to buy the glow-in-the-dark Nikes.
Witnesses said more deputies quickly arrived, decked out in riot gear and fortified by still more deputies on horseback, on motorcycles and in patrol cars. A helicopter with a spotlight hovered overhead.
“We were afraid of the cops and the horses,” said Mario Torres, 22, of Orlando.
The deputies formed a line and used shields to push back the crowd, witnesses said. They said the deputies threatened to use pepper spray but did not.
“It was pandemonium,” said Rico Gomez, 23, who flew to Orlando to New Haven with friends just to buy the new Nikes.
Still wondering about that lone, desperate individual who initially made the “mad dash” toward the closed Foot Locker store. What prompted his all-out gamble for Nike shoes? The world must hear his story.
Anyway, according to CNBC’s Darren Rovell, Foot Locker has cancelled seven other Nike shoe events because of the disturbance.
Nike’s website says the shoes that were to go on sale were part of the Nike All-Star collection, with a galactic theme inspired by space exploration. Their release is designed as a nod to Orlando and Florida’s space industry.
Several people said they coveted the $220, limited-edition shoes for their resale value, which some estimated at up to 10 times or more than the retail price.
Here’s a pair offered on eBay for the low, low buy it now bid price of $1,800. And, believe it or not, here’s a pair on eBay currently at $30,100 — with 40 bids so far. People: these shoes are not really from outer space!
Here’s a disappointed crowd in front of a closed Charlotte Foot Locker store.
Police in riot gear break up shoe melee at Florida mall [Orlando Sentinel]
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