August 26, 2012
B-I-N-G-O It’s a weekly tradition at St. Gregory the Great
Elaine Kargol, from St. Thecla Parish brings her rosary and an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe each time to Bingo. Participants try their luck at BINGO at St. Gregory the Great Church, 5545 N. Paulina, on Aug.14. The Tuesday night weekly games are a major fundraiser for the parish. Karen Callaway / Catholic New World
Good luck charms such as elephant statues, Beanie Babies, stuffed animals and troll figures blanket the area in front of some players. Karen Callaway / Catholic New World
Kelly Chester, a parishioner at St. Gregory, calls out the numbers that evening.Karen Callaway / Catholic New World
Jacqulyn Jones works several card during a game of four corners. Karen Callaway / Catholic New World
Surrounded by her lucky elephants, Cindy Ritt keeps an eye on her cards during a game.Karen Callaway / Catholic New World
When 5 p.m. on Tuesdays comes around and the doors open at the social hall of St. Gregory the Great at 1609 W. Gregory St., the bingo players are ready and waiting. They assume their seats — usually the same ones every week — set out their good luck trinkets, pull out their daubers and lay out their cards.
Some play unofficial games with each other before the 7 p.m. start time. Others socialize and eat.
Bingo at St. Gregory the Great goes back to about the 1940s, according to the pastor Father Paul Wachdorf. The parish nets about $30,000 annually from bingo and that money goes to meet any budget deficit or to pay for maintenance and repairs to the parish.
The event is run entirely by volunteers, with Joe Raffert leading the way. Raffert has volunteered at bingo for 22 years, even after he moved out of the parish to Our Lady of Hope in Rosemont.
“I never left,” he said Aug. 14 during bingo.
Price for entry is $12 for a book of 13 bingo sheets. Each sheet is a different color and has multiple bingo cards. Some players manage to play several sheets at a time. The games change each round. The parish gives out $2,250 in prize money every week. They have all of the necessary licenses and pay taxes on the money they collect.
The non-smoking bingo draws a crowd of about 100 people with attendance increasing as the jackpot increases. It’s a vibrant atmosphere. For example, when the number 22 is called people from around the hall make animal noises and one person rings a bell. There are other exclamations for other numbers as well.
Elaine Kargol from St. Thecla Parish has been attending bingo at St. Gregory’s for about 10 to 12 years. Her sister, who has since passed away, brought her years ago.
Before each game she puts out her trinkets, which include a rosary, some medals and a statue of Buddha.
“All of this was given to me,” Kargol said of her collection.
She gets to the hall early each week and saves seats for her friends.
Dorothy Torres has been a parishioner of St. Gregory the Great for 53 years and has been coming to bingo for eight. She started coming because “it was a night out” and has won about $5,000 over the years.
“It’s fun and we’ve got a nice group of people here,” she said.
For information about bingo, call the parish at (773) 561-3546.