Season’s first bingo night brings friends back together

First bingo of the season

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - It looked like gridlock traffic, but the cars were already at their destination.

It was bingo night at the Northpole Fire Department just north of Watertown. It’s drive-through style because of COVID.

It’s the first time since October the fire hall held bingo night. For some, it was a day circled on the calendar.

“Oh, every Wednesday, we don’t miss a Wednesday, ever,” Christina Sattazahn said.

“Oh, for a long time,” Jeanne Switzer said. “Near 10 years now.”

Switzer arrived at the fire hall a little after 4:15 p.m. -- almost three hours early to be the first in line. She is one of many religious bingo players at the fire hall.

Lora Lee Scanlon is another. She’s been coming ever since she was old enough. And since this was the first night back, she was excited to see her friends again.

“Especially now during COVID, it was a long time in between since we saw everybody,” Scanlon said.

And the regulars have become friends. Switzer and her friend Barb became friends about 15 years ago through bingo. They’ve been coming to North Pole every Wednesday together.

“When you go to bingo, everybody’s family,” Switzer said. “We all get along and play bingo together and tell jokes.”

“Pretty much all the people that were parked around us earlier, we all come every Wednesday, so that’s how we know everybody,” Sattazahn said. “We have a small little bingo community.”

But perhaps none have been here longer than Carl Herman. He’s been a volunteer with the fire department for more than 60 years and has been working bingo night since its inception in 1986.

“I don’t know,” he said, “it’s just a way of life.”

While many are friends, once that first number is called -- it’s game on.

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