Jim Meineke calls numbers at Sunday's Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 4265's weekly bingo game.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Jim Meineke calls numbers at Sunday's Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 4265's weekly bingo game.

Big money

Community bingo games quickly gaining popularity

photo

Joanna, left, and Shaeli Hattern, 9, share a laugh Sunday at the Veteran's of Foreign Wars auxiliary bingo at the VFW Hall.

O-66 was a lucky alphanumerical value for one regular bingo player Sunday afternoon.

Once the ball was called, the player cried out the name of the game and claimed the progressive weekly jackpot of $3,873.40 accumulated by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 4265.

The player preferred to remain anonymous because of the amount of money involved.

The weekly bingo game hosted by the VFW on Sunday afternoon attracted plenty of players, as did the Elks Lodge's 6:15 p.m. Friday game.

The majority of the crowds were made up of regular players, such as Lydia Johnston, who has frequented Craig's bingo games nearly every week for 15 years. While playing, she keeps a Troll doll, various candies and extra ink-filled markers - called "blotters" or "daubers" - at her table.

"They're just some goodies I keep with me," she said. "They're lucky charms. I won $2,300 a couple months ago."

Johnston took home $50 from the Friday night game, winning the "Box Kite" segment by filling out the bingo grid with a diagonal line connected to a corner box of four squares.

Packets of bingo grids are available for $15 apiece, with extra cards for special games ranging from 25 cents to one dollar. Dollar cards with pull tabs revealing racehorses are an additional incentive, with the horses representing the B numbers - 1 to 15.

In a designated horserace game, the bingo board - that displays the called numbers - shows the four vertical numbers that accompany each horse. For example, B-13 is accompanied by I-28, N-43, G-58 and O-73.

The first horse to have all its numbers called wins the cardholder $100 and the chance to win the progressive bonus by scratching off a ticket given to them by game officials. Stephanie Hansen won the first horserace Friday night.

"I've won the horserace before, but I didn't win the progressive this time," she said. "I'm a bingo regular, so I'll probably be back to try again."

Hansen enjoys bingo because she finds it to be a wholesome activity.

"It's something fun to do. It's a good night out, and it's family-oriented, so people can bring their kids," she said.

At both games, Jim Meineke called the bingo numbers as they were released, commenting on several, such as B-1 - "the baby" - O-75 - "the big O" - and B-11, which is his favorite because of the number's ties with Veterans Day. Meineke also bantered with players as they marked their cards, repeatedly wishing them all "good luck."

"I've been doing this regularly for the VFW and the Elks for about 10 or 12 years," Meineke said. "I also call numbers for one of the American Legion's games that they have twice a month. I'm just a volunteer, but it's fun, and it helps out the groups."

Bingo money collected by the two groups goes toward their community efforts.

"Bingo supports the scholarships we give out and a lot of the other things that we do," Shane Thomas, Leading Knight of the Elks Club, said. "We also get to get a lot of cool stuff for Toys for Tots at Christmastime. We can get the things we would've wanted when we were kids, like Transformers instead of building blocks."

The Elks and the VFW will not run their bingo games this week in honor of the July 4 holiday weekend.

"We want everyone to come see the flag flying and watch the time capsules being opened," Meineke said.

As part of Craig's centennial, the Centennial Committee will open time capsules from 1908 at noon Friday at City Hall.

Andy Bockelman can be reached at 875-1796.

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