1. North Dakota surpasses 900 COVID-19 deaths

Only 28 days after North Dakota reported its 500th COVID-19 death, the state's Department of Health announced on Friday, Nov. 27, that its total COVID-19 death toll has now eclipsed 900 North Dakotans.

In less than one month, the number of residents who have either died with or due to COVID-19 has increased by approximately 80%, and after Thanksgiving — a holiday known for multiple households closely congregating in one space — health experts worry the prevalence of COVID-19 throughout the nation will rise rapidly.

Officials say it is likely states will not be able to tell what impact Thanksgiving had in terms of the number of new COVID-19 cases and deaths until around the second week of December, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

Read more from The Forum's Michelle Griffith

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2. Despite coronavirus, Black Friday draws lines in Fargo

Shoppers line up before the 5 a.m. Black Friday sale Nov. 27 at West Acres in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Shoppers line up before the 5 a.m. Black Friday sale Nov. 27 at West Acres in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

The coronavirus pandemic didn’t stop shoppers in Fargo from lining up for deals on Black Friday, Nov. 27.

Dressed in winter coats, blankets and masks, customers stood in line before stores opened for what has been called the busiest shopping day of the year. Lines could be seen outside large box stores like Best Buy and Walmart, as well as the West Acres Shopping Center.

However, the lines were shorter compared to previous years. That was expected.

Experts projected more people would shop online to avoid the crowds and, potentially, catching COVID-19. Deals also started earlier this year to help spread out the days of shopping.

Read more from The Forum's April Baumgarten

3. Inside the manhunt for a Northeast Minnesota corrections facility escapee

The Northeast Regional Corrections Center is a 144-bed minimum/medium-security facility, with the vast majority of inmates under minimum security. Keith Cochise Bellanger fled NERCC on foot Nov. 13 as authorities were transferring him to the secure wing of the Saginaw facility. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)
The Northeast Regional Corrections Center is a 144-bed minimum/medium-security facility, with the vast majority of inmates under minimum security. Keith Cochise Bellanger fled NERCC on foot Nov. 13 as authorities were transferring him to the secure wing of the Saginaw facility. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

Much about how an escapee spent 103 hours evading local authorities earlier this month isn’t well-known.

He could have spent most of it at the Superior Inn near the foot of the Blatnik Bridge. That’s where Keith Bellanger, alias Josh Lightfeather, was apprehended without incident Nov. 17 when he stepped out for a cigarette.

The manhunt to locate Bellanger, 33, featured a half-dozen agencies and initially covered 4 miles over road and through the woods on Nov. 13 after Bellanger ran away from Northeast Regional Corrections Center in Saginaw in broad daylight.

In the end, a bout with social media proved to be the error that led to his capture.

Read more From Forum News Service's Brady Slater

4. Pandemic keeps some snowbirds home, many others still on the fence

The Dakotas Snowbird Club includes individuals from North Dakota and South Dakota who have traditionally spent several months out of the year in Alabama. This year, hurricanes and the threat from COVID-19 have led many members of the club to decide they will stay home this winter. The image shows members of the club getting together during a past winter. Special to The Forum.
The Dakotas Snowbird Club includes individuals from North Dakota and South Dakota who have traditionally spent several months out of the year in Alabama. This year, hurricanes and the threat from COVID-19 have led many members of the club to decide they will stay home this winter. The image shows members of the club getting together during a past winter. Special to The Forum.

COVID-19 is disrupting many annual traditions and the early winter migration of some Fargo-Moorhead area residents to warmer climates is no exception.

Traditionally, the holiday season is the time of year many "snowbirds" head south for states like Texas, Florida and Arizona, but this year many are still on the fence about whether or not they will make the trip.

That's according to Gene LaDoucer, a spokesman for AAA North Dakota.

Read more from The Forum's Dave Olson

5. Downtown Fargo store's window display rivaled 'A Christmas Story'

A child in the 1950s receives a gift from Santa Claus in the display window of downtown Fargo's Herbst Department store. The window, with its animated bears and live giveaways was a favorite among shoppers every season. Photo courtesy/NDSU Archives
A child in the 1950s receives a gift from Santa Claus in the display window of downtown Fargo's Herbst Department store. The window, with its animated bears and live giveaways was a favorite among shoppers every season. Photo courtesy/NDSU Archives

It is one of the most iconic scenes in one of the most iconic Christmas movies of all time. Ralphie Parker peers inside the department store window at the highly coveted Red Ryder BB gun while little brother Randy smashes his nose up against the glass, mesmerized by the flashing lights and the model train going round and round.

It turns out children in the mid-20th century in Fargo-Moorhead had similar experiences every year with a Christmas display at one downtown Fargo store.

Let’s go back a bit.

About one week ago, when we were looking at story assignments for the “Do You Remember” segment for Black Friday, it seemed natural to reflect back on the beginning of the Christmas shopping seasons in years past — long before we knew about Amazon, Etsy or even shopping malls.

Read more from The Forum's Tracy Briggs