Super Bowl Sunday bingo has become Mother Cabrini tradition
SHAMOKIN - The crowd of about 80 people inside Mother Cabrini Church Hall Sunday carefully watched the closest TV monitor for the next play.
Finally, after an announcer made the call, a singular voice rang out in the room.
"Bingo!" she said, while the rest of the room let out a collective "awwwww."
This was the scene inside the Shamokin Street church hall where Mother Cabrini hosted its annual tradition, a bingo game hours before the Super Bowl.
While most of the country was enjoying a pre-game celebration before the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos took the MetLife Stadium field, bingo players young and old were marking paper cards with their ink daubers, hoping to complete their patterns before anyone else to win the jackpots.
Volunteer Louise Zenel said the church, which normally holds a regular bingo game Monday evenings, has made the Super Bowl Sunday game a tradition.
"It is at least 20 years that we've done this," Zenel said. "It might even be for as long as there's been a Super Bowl played."
Greg Barkus, one of the people in charge of the church's game, says the pre-Super Bowl session is one of the biggest games they put on during the year, drawing 80 to 90 people.
"With the larger crowd, we up our payout amounts and give everyone a free hot dog and soda. We have a great time," he said.
With 29 bingo games, several special games and a number of rip-up ticket games to be played, Barkus estimated the session could last for approximately 3 1/2 hours, even with a halftime break.
"We do get done in time for the game," he said.
That didn't matter to Henrietta Hine, who was enjoying playing bingo with her daughter, Kimberly Weikel.
"It's been a while since I played here, but I thought why not? I wasn't that interested in sitting around watching football all day," Hine said.
"I root for the Cowboys, and since they're not playing today, I'd rather be here," Weikel said.
For Hine, the decision paid off early: she won one of the early special games, recouping her admission costs.
"With that early luck, I could stay here all day," Hine said. "But I am interested in some of the game, particularly the halftime show with Bruno Mars."
Quiet Sunday night
The Super Bowl was set to kick off at 6:30 p.m. By 6 p.m., local establishments were quiet, except for bars and restaurants preparing take-out orders or hosting Super Bowl parties.