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Tractor-Trailer Leaks 2,200 Gallons of Oil After Crash


A tractor-trailer carrying home heating oil crashed and overturned Friday morning, leaking 2,200 gallons of oil onto the entrance ramp to Interstate 91 northbound in Wallingford, according to police.

The on-ramp at exit 14 was closed following the crash while crews worked to clean the spill and clear the scene.

No injuries have been reported.

Photo Credit: Record Journal

Westfarms Packed With Shoppers on Black Friday


The Westfarms mall was packed Friday morning as people shopped for Black Friday deals.

As many as 140 million people are expected to hit the stores for Black Friday, spending roughly $617 billion. Retailers are offering deep discounts, door buster deals and half-off sales in entire stores like Ann Taylor's. XBox One consoles are $70 off at GameStop. Some stores gave away items for free.

Other hot items were Disney's "Frozen" collection, with 20 percent off the movie-themed items. Westfarms is one of the few locations in the country with a "Frozen" Ice Palace.

Many stores at the mall opened at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, which is two hours earlier than last year, and stayed open overnight for a head start on holiday deals. Others opened early Friday morning.

"It's all organzied we have our coupons, our lists, so you've learned over the years you have to be prepared. Yes, we've been doing this tradition for 10 years now," Marissa Stafford, of Simsbury, said. "....I wanna say we saved about $3 or $400 so far. We love it. It's just a tradition that we like to do."

Smartphone tech gloves were popular at RadioShack and there was a long line outside of H&M, where the store was giving the first 100 people scratch-off gift cards.

"You have to really go through the flyers you have to do your homework and stuff that’s what we were doing last night after dinner," Angela Tokarz, of West Hartford said.

Parking is filling up.

Click here for Black Friday store hours.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Knights of Columbus Provides Coats for Kids in Need


The Knights of Columbus are providing winter coats to Connecticut children in need at seven sites across the state on Black Friday following Thanksgiving.

Coats for Kids will have distribution locations in Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Stamford, Brooklyn, Groton and Waterbury. The Knights of Columbus provided 2,000 coats to children last year through the program and organization chapters throughout the United States and Canada have given away at least 215,000 coats to kids in total since 2009.

"On the first Christmas, Christ was born in a cold stable because there was no room in the inn," Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said in a statement. "Today, our members are making sure that children in our state can keep warm at Christmas and throughout the winter season."

Instead of looking for the best deal, mother Stacey Collins searched through piles of plastic bag-covered coats hoping to find one that fit her sons.

“I appreciate it so much because with it my kids would be cold," she said.

Without worrying about buying coats, Collins said Christmas will be a little merrier this year for her children.

“Thank you for keeping my kids warm this winter," she said.

The Knights of Columbus began distributing the jackets at 10 a.m. on Friday morning and will continue through 1 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Bridgeport: St. Monica's Hall at St. Augustine Cathedral, 170 Thompson St.
  • Brooklyn: Parks & Recreation Center, 69 South Main St.
  • Groton: Sacred Heart School, 56 Sacred Heart Drive
  • Hartford: Our Lady of Sorrows, 79 New Park Ave New Haven: St. Rose of Lima Church Hall, 115 Blatchley Ave.
  • Stamford: Knights of Columbus Council 41, 507 Shippan Ave.
  • Waterbury: St. Michael's Church, 62 St. Michael's Drive

"For three years running, Knights in Connecticut have embraced the 'Black Friday' Coats for Kids distribution as a statewide tradition that helps children in a very real way," Anderson said. "Simultaneously, it serves as a reminder that Christmas is not simply a commercial holiday, but is about giving, and celebrating God's love for us, and our love for our neighbor."

Ferguson Protesters Take Aim at Black Friday Shopping


Protesters taking aim at Black Friday after a grand jury's failure to indict the police officer who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, continued to rally into the night in cities across the country.

In the St. Louis area, dozens of people upset about the grand jury decision began trying to interrupt shopping at major retailers Thanksgiving night and and continued early Friday. According to Johnetta Elzie, who was tweeting and posting videos, the protests occurred at a number of Wal-Mart stores and a Target.

A mall was closed briefly as dozens of protesters moved store to store staging "die-ins," where they lie down on the floor like corpses, according to NBC affiliate KSDK. Thursday night also brought "stand up, don't shop" rallies at big box stores across St. Louis County. 

On Thursday, six demonstrators were arrested at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.

The arrests came after some protesters allegedly tried to organize a disruption of the parade on social media using the hashtag #stoptheparade.

"We will not tolerate, under any circumstances, any effort to disrupt this parade," Police Commissioner William Bratton said Thursday. "This is a national event, a historic event. Anybody who would seek to interrupt it would be callous, indeed, on this very special day."

More than 150 people rallied outside Macy's in Herald Square, eventually making their way to Times Square. At least two people were arrested for blocking the sidewalk. A protester told NBC New York that the point of the demonstrations was to diminish Black Friday profits to make the government notice.

Los Angeles police on Friday night began detaining people who were running into traffic despite orders to stay on the sidewalk. A group of 50 to 100 protesters marched in the Westlake District where police blocked the intersection near the 101 Freeway as crowds chanted "Let us go."

In West Oakland, about 20 protesters chained themselves to each other and a train and shut down the Bay Area Rapid Transit or BART. One participant told said the group planned to stay on the tracks for four hours to symbolize the amount of time Brown's body was in the street after he was killed.

About 100 people in Chicago said they said they would remain outside the stores on Friday but would urge people not to shop.

Meanwhile at the Wal-Mart store in Washington, D.C., Ferguson protesters joined a few hundred living wage activists at a rally. The gathering was peaceful and included a four-a-half-minute moment of silence to remember Brown. The Black Friday living wage protest was organized by unions as one of several against the company.

Although there were a handful of signs reading, "Black Lives Matter," the majority of protesters focused their message on wages and hours. Activists say that D.C. Walmart employees do not earn enough to support their families in an increasingly expensive city and want to see wages increased to $15 an hour.

A similar protest took place outside a Wal-Mart in North Bergen, New Jersey. The union-backed group Our Walmart says demonstrations were planned at 1,600 Wal-Mart stores around the country.

An entirely different sort of protest took place on in Beverly Hills as animal rights activists targetted Rodeo Drive over fur sales.

Inside stores, as Black Friday kicked off earlier than ever this year, steps were taken to keep crowds under control, but not everyone was behaving.

Kimberly States, who was shopping with her 11-year-old daughter at the Westfield Fox Valley mall in Aurora, Illinois, told The Associated Press it was markedly more quiet around 6:30 a.m. Friday than it was the night before, when she made her first trip to the mall to pick up some holiday deals.

"It was a zoo last night around 10 p.m.," States said. "Now it seems like more of the old folks."

Some fights did break out -- at a Kohl's in Tustin, California, near Los Angeles, for example, where two women attacked two other women in the baby department. One of those attacked was taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons; her condition was not known.

Tustin police said two arrests had been made.

An argument with shoving was also reported at a Walmart in Norwalk, California.  Police officers responded but no arrests were made, and it was unclear what the dispute was about.

And in New York, a 4-year-old boy and his 11-year-old handicapped sister were left alone in a hotel while their parents were at an outlet mall on Black Friday, police said. The father has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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Christmas Tree Arrives at WH


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the White House now that the official tree has arrived.

A horse-drawn wagon hauled the 20-foot white fir up the driveway to the North Portico for inspection on Friday morning. Receiving the tree were first lady Michelle Obama, daughters Malia and Sasha and family dogs Bo and Sunny.

The family circled the tree, smelled it and conferred before the first lady said, "Thumbs-up. It's a go. We're taking the tree."

Malia, holding Bo's leash, said of the tree: "It's great. It's big."

It's tradition for the first lady to preside over the tree delivery on the morning after Thanksgiving. The odds are slim to none that it would ever be rejected.

The tree is chosen weeks in advance at the farm that wins the National Christmas Tree Association contest. The winner has presented the official White House tree since 1966.

In late September, a group of White House staffers including the chief usher, groundskeeper and chief horticulturist traveled to the Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Lehighton, Pennsylvania, to search for a tree they agreed is perfect enough to stand in the Blue Room, albeit tethered to its ceiling, as the main attraction throughout the White House holiday season. The Blue Room tree cannot be taller than 18 ½ feet, so this tree will be trimmed to fit.

The farm, run by Christ Botek, a second-generation Christmas tree farmer, also provided the official White House tree in 2010 and 2006.

The delivery marked the start of an intense few days of round-the-clock tree trimming, wreath laying and other decorating by an army of volunteer decorators who help turn the White House into a winter wonderland. Many of the decorations honor military families, a group that Mrs. Obama is trying to support through a nationwide initiative.

She has invited military families to the White House for a first look at the decorations on Wednesday.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Parents Left Kids to Shop: Police


A 4-year-old boy and his 11-year-old sister, who is disabled, were left alone in a hotel while their parents were at a New York outlet mall on Black Friday, police said. 

The boy was discovered crying and wandering in a hallway at 3:52 a.m. at the Hampton Inn in Central Valley, Woodbury police said. Police discovered his sister alone in a locked hotel room. 

The front desk called the children's parents who returned to the hotel, police said. Their father told police he left the children alone at about 3 a.m. to pick up his wife from Woodbury Commons Premium Outlets, but he had to wait for more than an hour for her to finish shopping. 

The father was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child. He has been released and a court appearance is scheduled Dec. 10. 

Anti-Fur Groups Target Rodeo Drive


Animal rights activists protested along the tony Beverly Hills Rodeo Drive shopping area during Black Friday, as part of a nationwide Fur Free Friday campaign.

Organizers have dubbed the glitzy retail hub the “Bloodiest Street in America” because of its retailers’ sales of luxury clothing made using animal furs and pelts, and planned the stop as the third in a series of four protests planned across the city.

West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico, who authored his city’s first-in-the-nation fur ban, joined the march.

Backers of the event included PETA, Last Chance for Animals and In Defense of Animals.

Retailers including Prada, Coach, Dolce & Gabbana, Yves Saint Laurent, Michael Kors, Armani, Fendi, Max Mara and Ferragamo were targets, according to organizers.

Other planned protest sites included the Glendale Galleria and neighboring Americana at Brand in the morning; the Beverly Center in the afternoon; and Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica in the evening.

Photo Credit: Rene Luna

Burglars Target Cars, Homes, Storage in West Hartford


West Hartford police are stepping up patrols after a rash of burglaries over the past month.

Eight storage bins and 11 cars have been targeted in November, according to police.

Police said thieves also swiped $200 in cash from the register at W.H. Professional Barber Shop at 18 La Salle Road.

Between Nov. 12 and Nov. 27, burglars got into storage units and bins on Vera Street, Concord Street, Farmington Avenue, Shadow Lane and Prospect Avenue and ripped off cars around town, stealing a cellphone, personal documents, cash and change.

Dr. Evan Nadler said he was one the unlucky ones.

"I went out, looked at the car," Nadler explained, "and the back side window was knocked out with a rock through it."

Nadler said the thieves took his work bag, forcing him to shell out more than $500 to replace its contents and repair the window.

"Sometimes after work, I'll leave my work bag, some white coats in there," Nadler said. "I definitely won't do that anymore."

Police said crooks also targeted homes in the area, stealing cash from the kitchen of a unit at the Federation Square Apartments on Starkel Road.

It's not clear if any of the burglaries are connected, but police said they're following leads.

"We're working on a few suspects right now," said West Hartford police spokesperson Lt. Ted Stoneburner. "We've got some good information."

Residents are urged to lock their cars and secure their valuables.

Anyone who sees suspicious or unusual activity is urged to call the police department immediately.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Car Found in Water at Bridgeport Harbor


Police are investigating after a car was found in Bridgeport Harbor, according to the Bridgeport mayor's office.

The station wagon was found partially submerged in the water near the docks off Newfield Avenue with open doors and windows, the mayor's office confirmed and the Connecticut Post reported.

A photo published on the Connecticut Post website shows two divers searching a car with the trunk window open.

The Bridgeport Fire Department responded with its rescue boat and divers searching the car didn't find anyone inside, the mayor's office confirmed.

It's unknown why the car is in the water or who the owner is.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Police Find Body of Man Living in Tariffville Park Woods


Simsbury police found the body of a male adult in the woods at Tariffville Park in the Tarifville section of Simsbury on Friday.

The man likely was living in the "secluded" woods and authorities said that his death didn't appear suspicious, according to police.

Police notified the Office of the State Medical Examiner in Farmington and the medical examiner will do an autopsy on the body to determine the cause of death, police said.

More information will be provided when it becomes available.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Drunken Driver Hits Police Car at DUI Checkpoint: Cops


A drunken driver collided with a Norwalk police car while passing through a DUI checkpoint in town early Thursday morning, police said.

Matthew Dicesarre, 27, of Westport, crashed his 2014 Chevy Cruz into the back of a police cruiser at about 1:22 a.m. Thursday at a checkpoint for DUI enforcement in the West Avenue area by Interstate 95, police confirmed.

He was charged with driving under the influence shortly after.

Police said that the DUI checkpoint was advertised in advance in newspapers, online and on social media.

Dicessare has been arrested once before on a DUI charge, police said.

Retailers Ready for Small Business Saturday


Thousands of Connecticut companies taking part in Small Business Saturday are gearing up for the initiative to support local retailers.

“The people are extremely supportive. They’re loyal," said Mark O'Neil, who owns Essex Golf and Sportswear on Main Street in Old Saybrook. "We have a good local following so it makes it a lot of fun when you see the same customers in on a regular basis.”

O'Neil said he's not fazed by big box sporting goods stores.

"We like to think that they compete with us," he said.

Small Business Saturday is designed to help businesses like Essex Golf and Sportswear that have trouble going up against some of their larger and more expansive national counterparts.

“Black Friday is great for the Best Buys and Wal-Marts of the world but for small businesses like ours, we really need the Small Business Saturday," O'Neil said.

Gov. Dan Malloy made a point of mentioning Friday what his administration has done in its efforts to support small businesses. Through the Small Business Express Program, the state has awarded more than $170 million in grants for small businesses across Connecticut.

Malloy is scheduled to take part in Small Business Saturday at a toy store in West Hartford.

Lynn Williams, who owns Silver Lining, a small jewelry and decor store in Old Saybrook, said small businesses like hers provide a particular touch that gets lost in the hustle and bustle of Black Friday.

"Everyone is happy-go-lucky and they want to be here, not at the box stores where they’re open on Thanksgiving because they have to be,” Williams said.

Windham Man Charged in Sex Assault of Child


A 27-year-old man is facing charges after sexually assaulting a young child, according to police.

Authorities began investigating Erick Rivera, of Jeffrey Road of Windham, in October. He was arrested Wednesday morning in Mansfield, according to police.

Rivera is charged with first-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor. According to The Norwich Bulletin, the victim was a 5-year-old girl.

He was arraigned in court Friday morning and is being held on $350,000 bond.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Senator Warns of Quality Concerns at Outlet Malls


Shoppers across Connecticut roamed the paved walkways of outlet malls on Black Friday, looking for bargains and deals, but U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal warned that some of those deals aren't what they seem.

"The whole industry of outlet stores has changed," Blumenthal told reporters during a news conference in Hartford. "Merchandise is now made solely or exclusively for the outlet malls at lesser quality: different types of stitching, fabric, all kinds of different manufacturing differences that make them cheaper.”

Blumenthal called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate outlet mall pricing, arguing that the goods sold aren't what the retailers claim them to be.

Shoppers at the Tanger Outlets in Westbrook weren't fazed one bit by the notion of lesser quality goods for outlets.

Michelle Yohanna, who traveled from New York State to shop at the Tanger Outlets, said she has no doubt her shopping cart filled with handbags only contained the highest quality goods for discount prices.

"These are the real thing," Yohanna said. "I know because of the quality, the way it's stitched."

Blumenthal, on the other hand, argues that consumers may not always know what to look for.

“This practice is still largely concealed and hidden by the retailers," Blumenthal said. "They don’t broadcast it and that’s why this kind of warning is important.”

But it may be a warning that fell on deaf ears on the busiest shopping day of the year.

"I am very confident in, you know, the quality and everything," said shopper Marcus Franklin. "It was just a wonderful experience and we’re happy with our purchases.”

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Rescue Dog "Pilgrim" Up for Adoption


For the first time, Pilgrim the rescue dog got to meet his potential new parents after animal control officers found him badly abused.

“It’s one of the worst cases we’ve seen as far as neglect,” said Animal Control Officer Robert Yuchinick. “His fur was encrusted with urine and feces. It was so bad on his back legs he could barely walk.”

Pilgrim was abandoned outside the Humane Society last week, after years of neglect and abuse. A local groomer shaved off nearly eight pounds of matted fur.

“He’s estimated to be 4 or 5 years old, and he’d probably never been to the groomer until we brought him to the groomer,” Yuchinick said.

Day by day, Pilgrim is slowly recovering, and officers are selectively searching for a new home for the Cocker Spaniel.

“He’s doing better,” said Yuchinick. “He’s got some muscular issues. He’s probably been kept in a crate his entire life.”

Tolland resident Mackenzie Merza said she knew she had to visit Pilgrim as soon as she heard his story.

“It’s really sad,” she said. “He’s so cute and no dog deserves to be treated like that.”

So far, officials say there have been hundreds of calls from people who live as far away from Canada people looking to adopt Pilgrim, who earned his Thanksgiving.

“We thought pilgrim because like the original pilgrims he’s now looking for a new home,” Yuchinick said.

Animal control officers are asking prospective puppy parents to come meet Pilgrim in person. You can apply to adopt him by stopping by the Waterford-East Lyme Animal Control office.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Driver Trapped in Sinking Car After Crashing Into Pond


A driver is in critical condition after crashing into a pond in Old Saybrook and remaining trapped underwater for about 20 minutes Friday afternoon, according to police.

Police were called to the area of 2 Custom Drive around 3:10 p.m. after a car veered off the road and into a pond. They arrived to find the vehicle underwater with the driver trapped inside, according to police.

A state police trooper rescued a passenger and brought the person to shore. Police and firefighters dove into the water to save the driver while a paving company tow truck was brought in to steady the car, police said.

Nineteen minutes after the start of the rescue, emergency crews managed to free the trapped driver. Both the driver and passenger were taken to Middlesex Medical Center, according to police.

The passenger remains hospitalized in stable condition. LifeStar transferred the driver to Yale-New Haven Hospital, where the driver is listed in critical condition, police said.

An Old Saybrook officer involved in the rescue was also hospitalized for treatment of minor hypothermia, according to police.

Authorities are still at the scene hours later investigating the cause of the crash.

Anyone with information is urged to call Old Saybrook police at 860-395-3142.

Photo Credit: Old Saybrook Police

"Ice Missiles" Make for Dangerous Driving


As winter gets underway, remember to clear the snow off the top of your car – or pay the consequences.

Earlier this year, state legislators pushed through a new law requiring drivers to clear snow and ice from all trunks, roofs and hoods. Failure to do so could result in a fine of up to $75, or $1,000 if “ice missiles” fly off the car and hurts someone or damages another vehicle.

A drive down the highway Friday revealed a good number of drivers failed to abide by the state law, which does not apply during snow or ice storms but takes effect immediately afterward.

With the last flakes falling more than 24 hours ago in most parts of the state, non-compliant drivers are at a high risk of getting pulled over.

Drivers are encouraged to leave themselves enough time to clear off their vehicles after it snows.

I-395 North Reopens in Montville After Crash


Interstate 395 northbound has reopened in Montville following a crash, according to the Department of Transportation.

Police said the highway was closed Friday evening between exits 79A and 80E in Montville. The Department of Transportation reports that three cars were involved in the crash.

State police have not released any information on injuries.

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation

Shelter in Place Lifted in Ledyard


Authorities urged residents of the 1500 block of Route 12 in Ledyard to shelter in place after a man threatened to hurt himself, then ran off into the woods Friday evening, according to police.

Police said the man has been taken into custody and is receiving medical treatment. The shelter in place advisory has been lifted.

No additional information was immediately available.

Bomb Threat Hoaxer Targets Pizza Place, Citing Food Complaints


Police evacuated a Rocky Hill shopping center Friday evening after a pizza place received a bomb threat over reports of bad food.

According to police, an employee of West Side Pizza at 945 Cromwell Avenue received a threatening phone call around 5:30 p.m. The female caller said her son had planted a bomb inside the restaurant because he was unhappy with his meal.

Police and firefighters rushed to the scene and evacuated surrounding businesses in Cold Spring Plaza as a precaution, according to police.

Authorities combed the area and found nothing dangerous, so 25 minutes later, it was business as usual. Pizzeria employees said the threat turned out to be a prank call.

Police are investigating the incident. Anyone with information is asked to call Rocky Hill Det. Roy Bombaci at 860-258-7640.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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