Thursday mornings at the Marysville Senior Center bring an hour of drama as people wait to see which Ping-Pong ball could make them yell, “Bingo.”
All it takes is 5 cents a card per game, and seniors can follow the swirling balls and cover the numbers that pop up on their cards.
Winners collect the pot in every game, except the last one. The finale is a round of blackout where the first player to cover their entire board wins $5 from Taco Bell or Carl’s Jr.
Thursday’s turnout of 14 people was one of the largest the center’s secretary-treasurer, Irene Broome, had seen.
It brought out more than the usual four or five people that come by. The more people that join in the games, the bigger the pots can get, which would draw in more people, she said.
“The center provides coffee or tea and someone normally brings along donuts or something like that,” Broome said.
Aside from blackout or the typical five in a row, caller Bill Sparks mixes in a few variations to keep things interesting. Sparks, 78, started volunteering at the center when he was talked into calling the numbers over a lunch. He was happy to do it because it gave him something to do.
“At my age you’ve got to keep active and keep doing things,” Sparks said.
Sometimes he forgets the rules he sets or O-66 won’t light up on the board behind him. In a game of GO, where the object is to fill up only the G and O columns of a card, Sparks called out N-38, which drew a playful groan from the players.
“Yeah, they make sure to keep me honest,” he said.
Marysville bingo player Irene Andrews didn’t seem to mind when Sparks slips up.
“That’s the second time this year,” she said with a grin.
Andrews took care of collecting everyone’s money, checking cards and awarding the pot to the winner.
It’s not an official position. She just happens to be there every Thursday when from 10 to 11:15 a.m. the games are going.
She also pulls in her friends who go to games at the Elks Lodge in Marysville and the VFW Hall in Olivehurst. Andrews pitches each game as a good brain exercise to help people keep their minds sharp as they age.
“It’s good for the mind,” Andrews said. “Every Thursday morning I tell my husband I have to go exercise my mind.”