First ever drive-in bingo continues popular seniors’ event

Chuck Vestal calls out numbers at seniors’ drive-in bingo on Oct. 22.

First ever drive-in bingo continues popular seniors’ event
October 28
14:21 2020

By Judie Holcomb-Pack

It has been a year of changing schedules, adapting procedures and juggling events during a pandemic for Chuck Vestal, adult recreation program supervisor at Recreation and Parks department. Numerous Senior Games events had to be postponed, canceled or modified to adhere to CDC recommendations and N.C. Health Department guidelines.

The mantra, “The show must go on,” took on a new meaning for Vestal when he considered how to stage the annual bingo event that seniors look forward to every year. Bingo has been one of the most popular and well attended events and Vestal did not want to disappoint its fans, so he looked for a way to hold the event in a safe and socially distanced manner. 

The end result was “drive-in bingo.” Participants parked in the lot in front of Hanes Hosiery Recreation Center and were given bingo cards by recreation staff. Vestal set up a table in front of the parking lot and called out bingo numbers. “We utilized an FM transmitter to broadcast directly into the cars’ radios,” Vestal explained and added, “A special thank you to WTOB for making this happen.”

Instead of yelling “bingo!” participants blew their cars’ horns and masked staff members checked the numbers to verify the winning cards and delivered prizes. Vestal was pleased with the array of donated prizes. “Gift bags from T.W. Garner, cakes and gift certificates from Nothing Bundt Cakes, certificates for pedicures and manicures, bowling passes from Northside and Creekside Lanes, gift certificates from Play It Again Sports, just to name a few,” he noted.

Although drive-in bingo didn’t bring out the nearly 100 people who usually attend the annual event, there were a dozen or so cars lined up and ready to play by 10 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 22. The weather was perfect for an outdoor event and Vestal was encouraged by the turnout.

“Logistically and operationally, the event was nearly perfect,” said Vestal commenting on the first ever drive-in bingo. Although Vestal was pleased at how smoothly the event went, he added, “It would have been awesome to have had more people participate.”

The past nine months have been especially challenging for older adults who have been isolated from friends and family due to the pandemic. Forsyth County Recreation and Parks has been working hard to keep older adults connected through online exercise videos and classes and encouraging adults to check out the many walking trails and parks throughout the county. Every day on Spectrum channel 13 there is something for all ages to participate in from their home.

Vestal continues to keep busy planning events for older adults in Forsyth County and is already looking forward to 2021. He mentioned that Piedmont Plus Senior Games/SilverArts Kickoff is slated for Tuesday, Jan. 19, and Grand Games, an event for grandparents and their grandchildren, is scheduled for the afternoon of Feb. 6.

As for the first ever drive-in bingo, Vestal hinted at more to come. “It ran so well that you may see another drive-in bingo event soon,” he said. He’d like to see more seniors come out and enjoy the competition and camaraderie of drive-in bingo.

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