We arrive at the Hoffman Building, March 25 a full half hour early and yet the parking lot is already packed. Inside there are rows of tables, most of them crammed, and those that aren't are quickly getting that way. A table sits on the immediate right holding stacks of cards and brightly colored "daubers." Next is food: hot dogs, soda, pie, cookies and cake.

There are four of us but, despite our early arrival four seats cannot be found together. My companions and I look at each other with anxiety. Will we find seats? Will the food be delicious? And what about the baskets?

Enough of the melodrama! It was a hot time in the old Hoffman Building as the Tucquan Lions sponsored their annual Basket Bingo event to raise money for their club. The baskets were Longaberger, highly sought after, quality collectibles. Added to those were lots of donations from local businesses (more than 130 door prizes alone!). The food-yummy and cheap. The atmosphere pure, unadulterated fun.

The fact of the matter is I had played bingo in the past but not Basket Bingo. Luckily however, a very nice woman and her daughter moved so that my companions and I could all have seats together. Additionally, we sat across from a crew who were more than happy to assist novices Kathy and I to learn the intricacies of the game. Ryan and Bryan rounded out my group of 4 but these guys were old hands at the game even bringing their own equipment.

I did not realize how truly ignorant I was about all things bingo until I sat down and played with the pros. In addition to the regular and special games (get an X, fill up whole card, get an L), there were these fascinating things called "daubers."

For those of you woefully "out-of-the-know," a "dauber" is a tube with a little sponge on the end that you use to dot the "called" numbers. I was stunned at the sea of colors and styles these babies came in: florescent green, hot pink, bright pastels and screaming hues of every shade. The tube itself can come in a variety of shapes including the classic hour glass, Elvis, Betty Boop, and Romeo and Juliet. One woman told me she had entire holiday sets shaped like Santa and the Easter Bunny.

Ryan and Bryan immediately moved into super heavy play. Kathy and I however, chatted, casually daubing as we relaxed and chilled out. Okay that is such a lie-we got caught up in the action so fast your head would spin. I wanted one of those baskets bad. I pouted and sulked every time someone else won. I never knew being a poor sport could be such fun.

The games were generally quick and went on for hours. There were breaks, for grabbing food, getting a close up view of the prizes and visiting with your neighbors. But the rest of the time it was Bingo!

As it turned out, Basket Bingo is not amongst mine or my companion's talents. None of us won that night, although Ryan and I got door prizes; I received a gift card to C.R. Lapps and Ryan a gift card for Ferguson and Hassler.

Will I play Basket Bingo again? It all depends on how fast I get those three Stooges "daubers" I just ordered on-line.

Shelley Castetter lives in Bart Township. Her e-mail address is southernexposure1@yahoo.com.

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