For the first time in more than 20 years, Bingo is back at the Tri-City Elks Lodge No. 14 on West Shore Road.
However, this bingo game is unlike those of years past when people filled both floors of the lodge.
For starters, playing cards are no longer made of cardboard. They’re simply sheets of paper with the necessary numbers. And those once famous plastic markers aren’t back, either. Now, players use what they call dabbers that feature a liquid and sponge-like top.
The menu features hot dogs, hamburgers, French fries, stuffies, dessert and coffee. Players don’t have to leave their seats, as volunteers take and serve the orders.
But had it not been for Gloria Perenti, Bingo would not be part of the Tri-City Elks Lodge ongoing list of interesting social offerings.
Perenti is a longtime Bingo player whose son-in-law, John Collins, is a Trustee at the Tri-City Elks Lodge.
“She kept talking about how much she misses Bingos at the Elks and would love to see it come back in the neighborhood,” said Collins, who is the chief engineer at Rhode Island Hospital.
Like a host of other women, and some men, Perenti would have to drive to places like Cranston if she wanted to play Bingo.
So, Collins began talking with other Trustees and Elks officials and the consensus was: “Let’s see if we can, in fact, bring it back!”
The idea of bringing Bingo back to the days when the Elks Lodge had overflowing crowds on both floors of their spacious facility on West Shore Road, where there’s also plenty of parking, grew closer to becoming a reality.
“We are a non-profit agency that gives to local and national charities. Also, a Bingo would be a great way to raise some additional revenue to help support those charities,” Collins said.
Collins and the Elks then began to research other area Bingos and then applied for all the necessary licenses and permits from the city, state and local municipalities as well as the gaming commission.
“We got the approval about a month ago,” Collins said. “Then the trustees committee met to decide what night we’d actually have Bingo. It was decided that Friday would be a good night.”
Two weeks ago, Bingo made its re-appearance at the Tri-City Elks Lodge No. 14 and 57 people showed up for an evening that included Bingo and special table service provided by a host of Elks Lodge members and a total payout of $920 in prizes.
The first winner was Jeff Levesque, who was all smiles after Elks Leading Knight Charlie Graves called the last of his necessary numbers and he yelled “Bingo.”
“That was a great sound,” Collins said of Levesque’s winning chant. “There are a lot of smiling faces here tonight and one of them is my mother-in-law; she’s really happy.”
Bingo at the Tri-City Elks Lodge No. 14 will be played again tomorrow night beginning at 6:30 in the lower level of the lakeside lodge that has undergone some renovations.
Greaves will be back calling the numbers, along with his wife Anne Marie, who doubles as Lodge No. 14’s Chaplin.
It’s also expected that Elks members Mike Scanlon, Nick Rossi, Noel Petisce, Lori and Mark Eaton, Carol and Cookie Delory, Donna and Dick Warner, among others, will be on duty helping make the Bingo players feel right at home and taking orders for food from Chef Cheryl Devlin’s kitchen.
Collins said there are different cash prizes and playing card offerings throughout the 15 games and jackpot special.
In the end, it all adds up to revenue the Elks Lodge wouldn’t have for their charities if Collins’ mother-in-law, Gloria Perenti, hadn’t played Bingo in years past at the lakeside lodge on West Shore Road.