Dozens were playing bridge at the Red Deer Legion Thursday afternoon. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff

Red Deer Legion settles into smaller space

Grand reopening on March 23

Red Deer Legion will host its official reopening on March 23 in celebration of its renovations.

The Legion closed June 30 to downsize to a smaller space in the same building at 2810 Bremner Ave., on the corner of Molly Bannister Drive.

It reopened briefly before Christmas, and has been regularly open since the beginning of January.

The local Legion sold its building and property, and is now leasing about one-third of the space to house a canteen, games room and kitchen.

“We’re all in one big room now. We just kept the best of what we had and we’re trying to add new things,” said Legion president Bev Hanes.

She said membership renewals have been brisk and started while the legion was in a temporary downtown location.

“By Jan. 9 we had renewed 82 per cent of our members, which in the legion world is really, really well.”

Membership stands at about 1,130 members.

She said other legions are watching what’s happening in Red Deer.

“Any of the bigger ones are in the same boat we were in when you own your own building and you can’t do enough to make it pay. We’ve had a few phone to ask how’s it going and what we did.”

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She said people visit the legion for a variety of things — darts, shuffle board, carpet bowling, bingo and lunch specials. An old-time dance group meets regularly as do crib and bridge players.

“It’s not like going to a restaurant. They want you to have what you have, visit a bit, then leave. Here people can socialize and be here for a long time.”

She said more people should realize that legions aren’t a place where people just sit around and drink. There’s lots of things going on all the time.

“There’s a lot of people retiring every day. We are an option for them. It is a private club, but the public are welcome if they sign in. Any Canadian citizen can be a member.”

Hanes said parking is available which also makes it a good location.

The grand opening celebration starts at 10 a.m. with coffee and snacks and finishes off with a dance from 7 to 11 p.m. featuring Randy Poirier. Activities during the day include the official reopening ceremony at 11 a.m.

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