Brides Make a Run for Dresses in New York

02/27/2009 AT 08:50 AM EST



Forget the New York City Marathon – or the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. The place to witness the year's most ferocious blood sport was Friday morning in New York's Union Square – at the discount store Filene's Basement, for what has become known as the annual "Running of the Brides."

The tradition is so well-established that even NBC's Today show kept an eye on the proceedings – causing hosts Matt Lauer and Ann Curry to drop their jaws over the determination of the shoppers.

Thousands of bridal gowns in all styles and sizes and with original prices of up to $10,000 have been marked down to as little as $249 – prompting several bargain-seeking brides-to-be to camp out overnight in anticipation of the store's 8 a.m. Friday opening.

Then came the stampede. Although the sale runs for the entire day, the racks were stripped bare within one minute.

And forget the antiquated term "Blushing Bride" – some of the hundreds of shoppers were so eager to don their gowns that they didn't wait to get to a dressing room to strip down and try on.

Now, if they can just get their credit-card authorizers to say, "I do."

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