Sitting at rows of tables in the Roseburg Senior Center Saturday, 74 avid bingo players listened carefully as each letter and number was called.
Bingo’s a popular activity at the center on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. But Saturday was special. It was the annual Winter Bingo Marathon, one of the center’s two biggest bingo games of the year (the other being in July.)
Helen Szeremeta was in it to win.
“It’s a marathon. There’s a chance to win a lot of money, more than usual,” she said.
But Saturday wasn’t just about money. It was also a chance to meet up with friends, have a good time, and just “get out of the house to do something,” Szeremeta said.
Connie Hayes said she attends bingo games every Wednesday at the center. She likes the competition. At about 1:30 Saturday afternoon she hadn’t won anything, but she was optimistic.
“It’s early yet,” she said.
The game would go on until 7 p.m.
On Wednesdays, Hayes brings a train horn and toots it whenever “22” is called, because it sounds like “two two.” Saturday, she left it at home.
Even more than the competition, Hayes enjoys the friendships she’s made through bingo.
“You just have so much fun, and when somebody’s missing you really miss them. You know when they’re gone,” she said.
The marathon’s a good fundraiser for the center, too. In the first quarter Saturday, they’d already made $600 on the game. Bingo games past paid for the tables on which Saturday’s marathon was played. A 50-50 game and raffle for a bingo-themed quilt brought in additional cash.
Roseburg Senior Center Bingo Manager Lisa Schrader said the games are a great way for seniors to get out and see friends. If they’re lucky, they can also win cash. At the marathon a blackout winner, who covers all squares, can get a payout between $99 and $500, said Schrader, who’s been the center’s bingo manager for the past three years.
Players bought cards containing six different bingo games, all played at once, and many were playing two or more cards at a time. It’s good for the memory, said Schrader, who enjoys the game herself.
“It’s just a fun, addictive game,” she said.