So, the coronavirus pandemic has put a halt to many activities that we experience in daily life. However, that certainly wasn’t going to stop some avid bingo fans in the United States from getting to participate in their favourite game. In fact, in several states around the country, residents have been driving to specific locations and engaging in something known as lockdown car bingo!
Every Tuesday and Friday in downtown Grand Rapids, Ohio, gamers get their eyes down looking as numbers are drawn, and people get to experience some enjoyment. Those events have been put together by Sharon Parson and her husband, Steve. He is master of Masonic Lodge 289, which sponsors the bingo games and provides the candy bar prizes for the winners.
The secretary of the lodge, Bob Bachman calls out the bingo numbers from a seat in his van, and even the power lines are supported by a community effort to allow him to utilise a loudspeaker. That electricity is provided by Ron and Kathy Monk, who are the operators of the Mill House B and B directly next to the parking lot where the bingo games take place.
These events have become so popular that people have started arriving 30 minutes early prior to the 3:30 pm starting time, so as to be sure of obtaining a space in the parking lot. Games last for one hour, and it allows townsfolk to connect with one another while observing social distancing measures, too. Winners of a round announce their victory by honking on their car horns, and Sharon approaches their car window with a six-foot gripping wand in hand to provide their candy bar reward.
It’s not only Ohio that has experienced a collection of people looking to remain in touch with their bingo family. Residents of Sandwich, Massachusetts have also found a weekly diversion during the COVID-19 pandemic. For the past month, people have been gathering in their cars at 10 am every Thursday in the parking lot of the Fox Valley Community Services building to participate in car bingo.
It was the idea of the Community Services Activities Director, Becky Lueken to introduce car bingo to residents. She said that the event has continued growing on a week-to-week basis, after starting out with 17 cars attending. According to Ms Lueken, around eight to 10 more cars have arrived to participate in the games of bingo each week. “It has definitely put people in a better mood”, she commented.
The bingo sessions in Massachusetts have also been lasting about one hour and incorporate eight games. The area’s local restaurants have been supporting the events, providing $5 gift certificates for individual winners to receive and a $10 certificate for each week’s grand prize winner.
The games are conducted by people listening in to the numbers being called through their radios. While car horn honking was the initial method used to signal a win, it became difficult to actually figure out which car was claiming the win. So, instead, participants are handed a sign when they arrive, and upon forming a winning bingo card, players stick these signs out of their car windows.