bingo

Bingo is a popular pastime activity for people of all ages. It is played at the Greater Palm Bay Senior Center on Wednesday during the day and on Friday nights.

“Bingo!” screams Barbara Bergman as she hoists her bright, whirling, lighted lantern in the air, making sure all know that it’s her number reflected on the wall monitor.

Bergman of Palm Bay and Betty Roberts of Sebastian play bingo at the Greater Palm Bay Senior Center every Wednesday and Friday, year around. They have been playing side by side for at least 10 years.

“It’s a good game to keep the mind going, you meet a lot of people, enjoy it and it gets you out of the house,” Bergman said of playing bingo.

The friends sit each time at the same table near the bingo box. The bingo box is packed with air-driven bounding and bouncing lightweight numbered balls, which are easily ejected from the bin when a hole is opened. The bingo caller shouts that number and letter and players try to match it on the cards they have purchased. Many variations of bingo games are created and played. Volunteers walk the concourse to assist players, especially those shouting bingo.

“I have played bingo for 40 years,” Roberts said. “Once you start, it is hard to quit. If you win, it’s a plus. If you don’t, it doesn’t matter.”

“When people win a lot, you do wonder how they do it all the time,” Bergman said. “But guess they are just lucky. Last Friday, I won $155. It varies to win two or three times a month, sometimes will go for months and nothing. It goes in streaks and then you win every week, and everybody says, ‘There she goes again,’” Bergman said laughing.

Bergman and Roberts have good luck charms they bring with them every time.

“I have cats and so I have all these china cats as my good luck,” said Bergman carefully displaying several of her goodluck charms.

Barbara Godwin-Hazel supervises all bingo at the Greater Palm Bay Senior Center.

“I got into it 14 ½ years ago and it kind of stuck,” she said. “I work it all. I do the ordering of supplies, make sure everything is running smoothly and do the updating when games are changed around.”

Games are played from 11:30 a.m. to about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday and 6 to 10 or 10:30 p.m. Friday. Cards for games on Wednesdays sell for $8 per pack and Fridays sell for $14 per pack.

“It’s mandatory to buy a pack to participate,” Goodwin-Hazel said. “Bingo is open to the public and you don’t have to be a member to play.”