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The Mac is Back

Students brave cool temps to be first in line at new McDonald’s

When Rhandyn Oldfield told his parents he planned to wait in line all night outside the new McDonald’s in Newton to score a free Big Mac card they looked at him like he was crazy. Oldfield, a senior at Newton High School, was undeterred by criticism. He and several friends, all students at NHS, were in position at the front by 10:30 p.m. Wednesday night. They brought chairs and blankets and settled in for a long night of 40-degree temperatures.

At 6 a.m. Thursday, as they were the first to enter the new store, the students all agreed it was worth it, even though they all admitted it started to get cold by the end of the night.

“That wind kind of got to us in the end,” Oldfield said. “We played tennis in the street, and ran around the building to stay warm.”

Oldfield and his friends were just a few of the hundreds waiting patiently for the store to open up on Thursday morning. To promote the reopening of the Newton store, McDonald’s announced they’d be giving out 100 cards, good for a free Big Mac, once a week for an entire year. Cara Van Steenis, who owns the Newton location, said the cards are a great way to get residents excited about the new store.

“We have a beautiful state of the art building here,” Van Steenis said.

Van Steenis owns nine McDonald’s locations around the state and said the Newton store was in need of replacement when she decided to tear it down to make way for a brand new store. The store has a bevy of upgrades, including two drive-thru lanes, which Van Steenis said will cut down on traffic congestion outside the store. While the store has the same square footage as the previous store, the dining room is smaller, only seating 67, as opposed to the previous store, which seated more than 100 guests. Enlarging the drive-thru area at the expense of the dining room is designed to accommodate guests in a hurry, Van Steenis said.

When the original store was built in ‘74 the drive-thru wasn’t as substantial,” Van Steenis said. “Physically, it just needed it.”

The new store also features kiosk ordering, which allows customers to place their order using a touchscreen computer. Van Steenis said the two kiosks allow six customers to order at once, a big upgrade over the previous store. To promote the new kiosk system the store will donate $1 from each order placed at the kiosk to the NHS band department, up to $1,000.

“We’re really excited about it,” Van Steenis said.

Even after standing in front of the McDonald’s all night, with a full day of classes and work ahead of him, Shaiden Simmons said it was worth it as he ate his sausage, egg and cheese biscuit. The NHS senior said everyone thought he was crazy when he told them what he was planning, but a hot breakfast made it all worthwhile.

“It was awesome to be the first people to walk in, we’re going to be talking about this for years,” Simmons said.

Temperatures in the low 40s weren’t enough to faze most people who waited in line outside the new store overnight. Verniel Knott, 81, said she’s used to weather, since it’s part of her job. The crossing guard said when she saw the advertisement in the paper for the free Big Mac card she circled the date on her calender. She rounded up a few friends, and bundled up for the long wait. Knott plans to bring her grandkids back to the store for Big Macs later this week to celebrate.

“Absolutely, it was worth it, I stand out in the cold anyways,” Knott said.

Contact David Dolmage at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or

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