EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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June 11, 2013

After 40 years, Bingo ends tonight at Sacred Hearts

(Continued)

Ouellette said a booth, which was dubbed the “kissing booth” was set up for patrons to buy pull tickets or cash in winners, but without volunteers going from table to table to push the sale of tickets, sales dropped and some players left to play at other Bingo halls, mostly in Southern New Hampshire. And over the years many elderly players died, further reducing attendance. Road construction along South Main Street forced the cancellation of Bingo for much of last summer, while over the last six months a lack of parent volunteers forced the game to be cancelled on two occasions, resulting in complaints by players.

“No one is happy about this,” Ouellette said about the end of Bingo. “For many people who come here it was their only outlet for socialization.”

Every week Ouellette and Beth Sosa, who oversees Bingo, would look out at the crowd checking to make sure the regulars were there.

“If they weren’t there we’d ask about them as we worried about them,” Ouellette said.

Although the games started at 6:30 p.m., many regulars showed up an hour or more early to set out their Bingo sheets and chat with other players and maybe play cards. Some brought snacks, while some bought food items from the hall’s kitchen such as slices of pizza, hot-dogs, hamburgers, coffee or tea, soda, bottled water and pastries.

Barbara Mirandette, 76, attended Sacred Hearts Bingo for over 30 years. Every week she meets her friend Patricia Reynolds, 80, and they sit together and talk and play the game.

“This is very, very sad,” Reynolds said. “Some people don’t drive, like me, so Barbara picks me up each week.”

“I can’t believe it’s closing,” Mirandette said as her daughter Debbie Costa took photos of her as a remembrance of her time playing Bingo at Sacred Hearts.

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