SUNDRE — Bingo is back at the local Elks hall for the first time since March following several months in hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday, July 21 about two-dozen people attended the event that raises funds for the organization and of course also provides an opportunity for participants to win some prize money while having some fun along the way.
“The safety of our patrons is of the utmost importance to us,” said Michelle Engelman, a member of the Sundre Elks Lodge No. 338 who also drew bingo balls.
“We want everybody to come and enjoy themselves and maybe win some money at bingo, but we also want to take the precautions to ensure good safety measures are in place,” Engelman said when contacted last week.
She said that includes barriers between volunteer staff and patrons, providing an ample supply of hand sanitizer, taking everyone’s temperature, as well as ensuring seating arrangements accommodated adequate physical distancing.
“We measured everything — they’re all six feet apart,” she said.
“We are looking at wearing masks, we will be wearing gloves while handling cards and money and things along those lines,” she added.
“We wanted to make sure we had everything in place and make sure everybody is safe as we can make them, and hopefully they come out and enjoy their time and everybody stays healthy.”
The Sundre Elks had shut down the hall back in March as directed by provincial authorities. The return of bingo is the first step towards further reopening the facility, which is also used by other groups.
“Right now, the only thing that we do have going is the Elks bingo,” she said.
Other activities including but not limited to dance and martial arts classes as well as community events, have been and for the time being, remain on hold. But the announcement that bingo is back was welcome, she said.
“People are just very excited to have this part open up. There’s a lot of people that don’t get to go anywhere, and this is their night out,” she said.
The bingo evening not only offers people a chance to play for some prize money, but also raises funds for the Elks, she said.
“It all ends up back in our community. The Elks do help with a lot of the different needs and charities in and around the Sundre area,” she explained, expressing hope that the COVID-19 curve remains relatively flat.
Once plans are in place to coordinate with other user groups wanting to use the hall to ensure proper safety protocols are adhered to, the facility could once again be available for rentals to other community organizations seeking a venue for an event, she said.
“I just don’t know all of the circumstances yet on that one,” she said.
“So far, we haven’t had to deal with any of that. But definitely in the future, if there was anything that was going to happen at the hall, we’d just want to make sure people are following procedures.”
Looking ahead, Engelman anticipates the previously postponed marathon bingo that had been scheduled for May 2 will proceed, possibly towards the end of September, although a date had not yet been confirmed. That will also of course depend on the situation with the pandemic, she said.
Numerous businesses in Sundre and area have donated door prizes, and Engelman expressed her appreciation for their contributions.
“The businesses have been just so supportive.”