Bingo a big hit!

We were told they’d come for hot dogs, but they came ready to play.

It was a sunny morning, and I was with a group of volunteers setting up activity stations in the community room of a senior high-rise apartment building. We arranged an area for potting flowers, a corner for playing cornhole and a row of tables for serving lunch.

“Most residents will probably come down for the food,” the building’s manager told us.

But starting at 10 a.m., long before we fired up the grill, a steady flow of people walked through the door. There was Carl with his Korea and Vietnam veteran cap, and Marie with the kindest smile I’d seen all week. More than 40 residents from the 211-unit building joined us, quite a turnout considering our recruitment strategies — a few fliers in the hallways and Motown on the speakers.

“B12… N32… G57…”

Residents scanned their bingo cards, whispering to each other as they placed chips over the numbers. When someone finally yelled “Bingo!” the group paused as we confirmed the numbers, then clapped for the winner.

As a volunteer, I cheered along. People were having a ball. What more could we ask for?

Bingo was thought to be a dirty word, an activity meant to pass the time and nothing else. We could ask for more, I thought. We could offer more. 

There’s nothing wrong with bingo. In fact, as I was reminded, there’s a lot that’s right about it. It’s fun, (addictively so!) brings people together and attracts a crowd too.