Gimmick or not, REI got a lot of credit for spreading the idea. Several government agencies were among the thousands to jump on the bandwagon and a number of them, several in partnership with REI, are opening up their parks for free.
Arizona, for example, partnered directly with the retailer, which offered free one-time day passes to any state park at its four stores in the Grand Canyon State. Tennessee also joined with REI and plans to offer free guided hikes at state parks on Friday.
“While REI is challenging its employees and customers to get outside on Black Friday, we challenge all of these folks to visit a Tennessee State Park that day and see what we have to offer,” Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill said in a statement.
Delaware, meanwhile, pegged its own decision to waive park fees for the day to the company’s campaign.
“With several large retail outlets extending their Black Friday hours by opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day, national sports retailer REI (www.rei.com ) decided to push back against the trend by closing all of its stores on Black Friday and giving its 12,000 employees a paid day off to enjoy the outdoors,” the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control wrote in its announcement. “DNREC’s Division of Parks and Recreation is making it easy to join them by waiving daily entrance fees at all state parks on Black Friday.”
Kansas also named REI in announcing a contest in which park visitors on Friday can win a free night’s stay in a state park cabin. And while it didn’t cite the company by name, Oregon’s Parks and Recreation department said it was “chiming in on one nationwide outdoor retailer’s announcement” by suspending parking fees on Friday.
“Rain or shine, windy or not, we’re thankful Oregon’s outdoors are a constant source of joy,” department director Lisa Sumption in a statement. “Take a break, get out, and enjoy some fresh air.”
In Washington state, Mount Rainier and Olympic National Parks both are using REI’s #OptOutside hashtag to promote free entry on Friday, too.
Several other states are opening their parks, albeit with less direct connection to REI’s campaign. Minnesota will suspend entry fees to its 75 parks and recreation areas, while Colorado will open up its 42 parks. Missouri will offer free camping on Friday night, too.
Others have joined REI’s campaign, too. MeetUp, a website which allows users to a venue to organize real-world activities, encouraged its users to take part in the Black Friday protest, with more than 5,000 reportedly planning to do so.
This post has been updated.