PARAMUS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — There was frustration for many drivers Saturday as some waited in their cars for hours outside a mall in New Jersey.

A sea of brake lights and long lines of cars greeted shoppers all around the Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus. Daniel Guerrero of Fort Lee said it took him nearly half an hour just to get into the parking lot and find a space.

“We just kept going around until eventually we found something,” he told CBS2’s Brian Conybeare. “If you’re facing the Route 4/Route 17 Junction, it’s crazy. There’s these choke points where traffic builds up and you just gotta sit there.”

Every parking lot at the mall was jammed with row after row of cars, but shoppers said the worst spot is a parking structure that had some drivers literally trapped for hours.

Natasha Hopper and her fiance said they were stuck on the fifth floor of the parking structure for nearly four hours because of the gridlock.

“I just thought maybe there was an accident and maybe we would be out soon, but three maybe four hours go by and we are still sitting there,” she said.

Eventually, mall security adjusted the timing of key traffic signals and had guards waving cars off of the exit ramps to get things moving again.

“An hour at least for a normal 13 minute drive,” driver Geri Petersen said.

Petersen and her husband live in nearby Oakland and were stunned by all the shoppers returning gifts or looking for post-Christmas discounts.

“We thought it would be packed cause it’s the day after Christmas, but it was really much more crowded than we ever could believe,” she said. “There was a lot of traffic, a lot of people everywhere.”

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