“Golfers” sat in their carts and patiently waited.
Wait, these aren’t golfers.
“B7,” a voice called out over a speaker. Those waiting went into action, looking down at their “scorecards,” which weren’t scorecards at all — just like they weren’t golfers.
This is Golf Cart Bingo at Texas Trails RV Park in Pharr, one of the many modifications that Winter Texan parks activity directors and residents are coming across the Rio Grande Valley to fight back what the COVID-19 pandemic has attempted to cancel. While it may not be in a bingo hall, it’s still bingo - and those in attendance seemed to have as much fun as any other bingo event taking place.
Locked and loaded with their bingo cards and markers, the competitors listened intently as Doug Schneider, who looked completely different than the night before when he and his wife took part in the golf cart/Halloween costume party and park parade.
“Far from it,” Schneider joked when asked if he was a professional Bingo caller. “In fact, I hate Bingo. I could have every card but one and just need one number and any other number would be called. That’s why I’m on this side and not that side.”
They played different type of Bingo games, including X-out, straight line and four corners bingo. The traditional final game is usually blackout where the winner covers their entire card from numbers that are called out.
“This is our first one and word of mouth will get it out there,” said Kathy Dewaele, the park’s activity director along with her husband Lou. “The more we get, the bigger the pot will be and that will get more people coming out as well.”
About a dozen carts and their passengers took part in the first Bingo day of the early season. Dewaele said that she’s heard that despite the COVID-19 pandemic the park’s reservations are up.
“It’s everywhere,” Dewaele said about COVID-19. “Residents are deciding to come down here where it’s warmer and where they have friends they’ve made for the past 20 or even 30 years.”
Dewaele added that she and the park staff are working hard to make sure their residents still have things to do. They are moving their bean-bag toss to the tennis courts, pickleball will only be played on their outdoor courts, and there will be crossword puzzle, Trivial Pursuit competitions and a whole new look to many of the events and activities.
“Our job is to come up with activities and think outside the box and keep everyone active and with things to do,” said Dewaele, from Great Falls, Montana. “It has been pretty fun, and a lot of our Wilder Parks are counting on us. We share our stuff with other parks, and we are planning and coming up with new ideas all the time.
“I don’t think we’ve turned any ideas down. It has actually been kinda fun coming up with things so everyone can have opportunities to stay active.”
On this particular day, it seemed that the Michigan residents competing were running away with the pots - well, maybe driving away is more appropriate.
“This is just a lot of fun,” said Marie Almedo, winner of the first pot and a Michigan native. “They just keep coming up with ideas to keep everyone busy and still be able to see our friends here. That’s important for us.”