One young man in New Jersey has launched an online petition to "save" Thanksgiving.
Anthony Michael Rivera, 24, has had enough of how the Black Friday shopping blitz keeps expanding and cutting into his Thanksgiving holiday.
"I don't live to work, I work so that I can live," said Rivera. "I want to be with my family, and I deserve the time off.”
The Somerset resident has worked for two years as a sales associate at the Menlo Park Mall in Edison. Although he is not scheduled to work this Thanksgiving, he said he felt compelled to stand up for others who are.
"I work very, very hard there, and so do all of my co-workers," said Rivera. "We should all be able to enjoy this one day."
More than 900 people have signed his petition on Change.org, which calls for the mall to rescind its scheduled 8 p.m. opening time on Thanksgiving Day. Instead, Rivera asks the mall to open at 2 a.m. on Black Friday.
The 8 p.m. opening doesn't give workers enough time to spend with their families on the holiday, he said.
The shopping hours are “designed to meet customers’ needs and reflect changing consumer behavior," said an emailed statement from Menlo Pak Mall management. "It also allows shoppers greater flexibility and further helps accommodate their already busy schedules.”
Rivera isn't the only retail worker to turn to Change.org. As of this week, Shareeza Bhola, communications manager for the site, has counted 63 "Save Thanksgiving" petitions with more than 200,000 signatures.
"Over the course of the past few years, we've seen a number of retail employees and their loved ones coming to Change.org to start petitions involving saving the holidays from what people have called the 'Black Friday creep,' which is that retailers are opening stores on holidays and cutting into time that people usually spend with family and loved ones," said Bhola.
At The Gallery at Market East mall in Center City, Omar Brown owns a kiosk store. Employees should always expect to work Black Friday, but he said he wouldn't schedule anyone -- including himself -- to work the holiday.
"I do own a business in the mall, and I wouldn't want to be open on Thanksgiving," said Brown. "I think it's a time reserved for people to be with their family."
Thanksgiving has been an annual tradition since 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it a national holiday.