Joe and Grace Brown arrive early to secure the same table at the Cannery Row Bingo hall where the couple play at least once a day.
Grace arranges her dabbers, tea and bingo cards while Joe sets up his own station directly across from his wife of 54 years.
Grace, 75, laughs because Joe misses the numbers sometimes because he is not paying attention. But it’s okay, she says, because they are not there for the big money.
“It passes the time,” said Joe, 76. “If we break even it’s a good day.”
The bingo enthusiasts have played a game or two in every Canadian province and American state over the last 21 years. When they are vacationing, they always ensure there’s a bingo game close by. They have played at Cannery Row Bingo for about 15 years and used to travel from Rocky Mountain House to play late night bingo. In 2009, the couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at the hall and bought cake for everyone.
Cannery Row Bingo closed its doors on Sunday and now all charity groups will be under one roof at the Red Deer Bingo Centre (4946 53rd Ave).
The Browns will now have to shift their daily bingo routine but it’s worth it because Grace says, “we just love it.”
Manager Terisa Matjeka said overall it is a positive change and it will be a new beginning for a lot of staff.
She said many patrons play at both halls already and others were upset about the change. Matjeka said some Cannery Row staff will work at the Bingo Centre which will give some continuity with the charity groups.
On average 50 to 60 people tried their luck in one of the twice a day events at Cannery Row.
Treena Hopkins, 37, has played bingo for 15 years at the hall. Hopkins plays both the electronic and traditional bingo about eight to 10 times a week. She said playing at Cannery Row is like playing with family.
“It’s my freedom,” said Hopkins.
“It’s the only thing I do to socialize and I volunteer a lot here. I am going to really miss that.”
Doris Justus, also a regular at Cannery Row, played about once a week and usually brings her sister and sometimes friends. While she has won a bit here and there, Justus said there is always the chance of going home with a big pay day.
Justus said she is sad the hall is closing but she is looking forward to trying her luck at the Red Deer Bingo Centre.
The centre is open seven days a week with afternoon and evening games. For times, call 403-347-4504.