EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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June 11, 2013

After 40 years, Bingo ends tonight at Sacred Hearts

(Continued)

Mirandette looked around the hall and noted how most of the players were middle-aged adults and many were senior citizens.

“At one time you could play Bingo every night of the week, including at St. James, St. John’s, St. Joseph, the Jewish Temple and the Amvets,” Mirandette said.

Mary Provencal began playing Bingo at Sacred Hearts 39 years ago and used to attend with a crowd of other women. She remembers when the hall was filled to capacity with over 300 players and tables had to be set up on the stage, behind the Bingo caller.

“A lot of older people are gone, but still everybody knows everybody here,” Provencal said. “It’s like a family.”

“It’s really sad,” Provencal said. “A lot of people who come here to play have no where else to go.”

Stella Burns, a 28-year veteran of Sacred Hearts Bingo, says the games are more like a coffee shop where people gather to socialize each week.

“Attendance has been down since about three years ago but I never thought they’d shut it down,” Burns said.

Burns said she has little interest in attending Bingo games in New Hampshire.

“I think it’s time to find a new hobby,” she said.

Rita Walker, 90, became a fixture at Sacred Hearts Bingo, beginning the first day it opened on Sept. 11, 1973. She began volunteering as a parishioner, and became a permanent volunteer working at the special games desk.

“You could not have asked for a nicer group of people,” Walker said. “Whenever we lose a player, it’s like losing a family member.”

“For forty years this has been my favorite night of the week,” Walker said.

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