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Long-time bingo player wants to get more involvement from the community as new organizer for weekly event.

DESIREE BERGSTROM/MADRAS PIONEER - Marilyn Middleton is now organizing bingo at the Elks lodge. A longtime player, she wants to see more people come out and play the game.
Marilyn Middleton, a longtime community member, has taken on a new role as the person in charge at Elks bingo on Friday nights, and she's making a few changes.

"They were having trouble trying to find someone to run it and we didn't wasn't them to close it down, so we said lets give it a try and see if we can make it a go," Middleton said.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. on Friday nights for people to come early and get some dinner. Middleton said that it used to be that games didn't start until 6:30 p.m., but they are now doing a 6 p.m. early bird game to get people in earlier and hopefully help the 6:30 p.m. games get started on time.

"It should be through by 9:30, but lately it's been 10 o'clock or a little after by the time they get through," she said about the games, adding that she is hoping to get done on time.

The goal behind changing a few things up with the weekly event is to get more people involved. The number of people coming to play has been fluctuating, and occasionally there aren't enough people to play.

Part of it has to do with the day of the week because if something is going on at Madras High School or the Madras Performing Arts Center on a Friday night, then the numbers are generally lower.

Each Friday people play seven regular games, three blackouts, and several extras, including bonanza and you pick.

Another thing that has changed recently is for the regular games, Middleton has gone back to doing simple eight-way games instead of doing patterns.

"We thought, 'We want to get it in there and get people in and, you know, play the simple games that they can play," Middleton said, adding that some people have a hard time following the patterns. "Hopefully it will go a little faster," she said.

Regular packets of cards, which include four blackouts, are $12, and the early bird game is $1. There are also several extra games you can buy cards to play.

Middleton has lived in the area for over 62 years and has played bingo at the Elks for many years.

"My husband just passed away the 14th of September, and so now I can get out and go do this and not have to worry about getting somebody to stay with him," she said about running bingo.

"I don't know," she said, "you just get started doing that stuff," recalling getting involved in bingo in the first place.

"Anybody is welcome — you don't have to be a lodge member to play," Middleton said. However, kids have to be at least 8 years old.


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