Hamilton Eagles Lodge #1693 is restarting Bingo with the first night set to benefit the Hamilton Volunteer Fire Department on Thursday, Oct. 14.
Eagle Larry McCloskey said he is optimistic for the Eagles Bingo that he helped start a few years ago.
“We have great volunteers who are going to take over. I’m going to help indefinitely,” he said. “I’ll get them rolling at least for a few games. Its fun.”
The first Bingo night is scheduled for 6-9 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 14, at the Eagles, 125 N. 2nd St. in Hamilton. Doors open at 5 p.m. for seating, and purchases of Bingo cards, food and drink. The 50/50 raffle will benefit the Hamilton Volunteer Fire Department.
Celebrity callers will be Hamilton Mayor Dominic Farrenkopf and City Council member Rod Pogachar.
“Dominic’s done a lot with the fire department get funding for their new building,” O’Leary said. “Rod will be helping us out as well.”
Farrenkopf said he invites everyone to Eagles Bingo night.
“I’m a professional Bingo caller and have worked in retirement centers for 16 years calling Bingo that whole time,” he said. “I also know how to weave in some humor, tell corny jokes and keep the ball rolling. I really appreciate the community’s support as we are raising money for the new fire hall. It is incredible to have the Eagles reach out to us because they see a need and want to help.”
He also praised the community.
“It’s wonderful to have the kind of community we live in where people can just get together, enjoy a night of Bingo and support a good cause,” Farrenkopf said. “I’m proud to live in Hamilton and be a part of the social fabric. Bring your friends and come for a night of fun and exciting Bingo action.”
“Make plans to join us for an evening of fun and fundraising,” he said.
Bingo chair-person Bonnie Small is organizing the activity that is open for the community.
“We want everyone to know we’re doing this, and it is a benefit to the community,” Small said. “We’d like it to be successful. It is an asset that can be for any nonprofit charitable organization in the community. Many community members aren’t aware that the Bingo night benefits a charity. We’re trying to get more people out and excited about it.”
Eagle Linda O’Leary agreed.
“We always benefit somebody with our 50/50 raffle,” she said.
The plan is to have Bingo every third Thursday of the month, but the dates aren’t yet finalized.
“The third Thursday of the month was happening before COVID hit, it was successful, people were loving it and then it all fell apart, like everything else,” McCloskey said. “We’re trying to get back into it now. People might remember older Bingo programs at the Eagles where there were prizes, but this is all cash prizes.”
McCloskey called the event a “cash Bingo.”
The minimum to play every game for the night is $11 and additional cards can be purchased for $1 each.
“Some people like to play a whole table full of cards, it’s up to them,” McCloskey said. “But we can get you in the door and you can play all night for $11.”
In addition to the entertaining celebrity callers, tracking the letters and numbers, enjoying the laughter and camaraderie, winning has benefits. Each regular game pays $40 cash, and some specialty game prizes are $100 to $200. Each night has 18 games and the opportunity to win the 50/50 raffle.
“There’s real money here,” McCloskey said.
O’Leary said the goal is to get more people to know about the Eagles Club.
“As a community organization it is open to the public, people can come in and we have many things happening,” O’Leary said. “Almost every Saturday we have live music and dancing, we did the corn hole game with the Ravalli Fun Center at the Fair and we raised $700 for the children’s program of the Eagles.”
Eagles tournaments are also a big draw – pool tournaments, cribbage tournaments, dart tournaments and corn hole. Everyone is invited to get involved and raise money for others – like for veterans and children’s activities.
For the Bingo nights, everyone entering must be age 18 or older. There will be food available for purchase, but snacks will be provided in the Bingo area.
“Come on out and have an adult night,” McCloskey said.
O’Leary described the Eagles as a community service organization.
“It was founded in part by a veterans' organization so there are many members who are veterans,” she said. “It is here to be a public service organization. We benefit children’s programs, veterans and various community organizations and activities.”
As a club, the Eagles are changing leadership and will soon have over 200 members.
“The Eagles are very active, we have lots of things going on,” Small said. “There’s always something.”