By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News
It’s been three years since local Tulalip citizens were joined by their fellow tribal members that journey from the polar north and deep south to fill Tulalip Bingo to max capacity for excitement-filled bingo sessions. The gift giveaway extravaganza went on an unprecedented hiatus due to COVID, but returned Monday, May 23 to the delight of nearly 1,000 Tulalip tribal members who valiantly attempted to daub their way into the winner’s circle.
“Who is ready to win some money?!” resounded Board of Director Mel Sheldon to kick-off the event’s return. Like he has done in years past, Mel reigned supreme on the mic as M.C. for the specialty 10:00a.m. and 5:00p.m. Tulalip-only sessions. He kept the atmosphere lively and upbeat with plenty of jokes and his witty banter.
In total, nine-hundred and fifty-nine Tulalip citizens turned into dauber enthusiasts while enjoying the festivities and trying their luck to win high-end prizes or line their pockets with cold, hard cash during the 19th annual Tribal Bingo Celebration.
“We are honored to host our tribal bingo once again. We’ve brought fun and excitement to the membership for 19 wonderful years now,” said Tammy Taylor, Tulalip Bingo Director. “The beautiful part of our celebration is bringing the membership together for a fun time, free of politics and drama. Today really is all about our people enjoying each other’s company, sharing stories, and catching up with friends and family you don’t see often enough.”
Bingo staff did their best to make the 19th annual celebration move along as smoothly as possible. They remained vigilant and attentive to the needs of bingo veterans and first timers who stayed glued in to their seats for close to three hours during each session. Every bingo player, whether using an electronic machine or traditional paper books, had an equal chance of winning cash and a number of door prizes, such as a 55” state of the art 4K OLED TV, an 8200 watt portable generator, and seven piece dining set.
Spanning each session were fifteen separate games of bingo, including hit favorites like Large Crazy Kite, Indian Star, and Blackout. During each session tens of thousands of dollars’ worth in total prizes were awarded to door-prize raffle and bingo winners.
“Especially this year, given everything we’re still bouncing back from, it was a truly exciting time. So many came together to celebrate,” reflected Mel following the morning session. “Bingo has been a pastime for generations now. Seeing all the first time 18-year-olds who participated today, adding to our tribal family, really makes it worthwhile.”
“Bingo started us in the gaming industry way back in 1983,” added Tammy. “It’s been an amazing journey to where we are now. You could see so many big smiles, hugs being given, and loud laughs shared throughout today. From our Bingo team members to the Enrollment team members, everyone did a fantastic job start to finish.”
Smiles and laughs were had by many of the 959 tribal members who eagerly daubed away at their bingo cards during the multi-hour sessions. Some even made the most of a fifteen-minute break to try their luck at the slot machines, with one lucky tribal member cashing in on his bingo break with a $14,000 slots jackpot.
Adding even more stakes to this year’s tribal celebration was the addition of a grand prize vehicle giveaway concluding each session. The morning session brought all the intensity as five players called out “Bingo!” at the same time. To determine which person would ultimately win the 2022 Chevy Blazer sports utility vehicle, the five participated in a super stressful, single playoff game. With many tribal members sticking around to see who would win, cheers galore rang out as elder Lenny James came out victorious
The 79-year-old was grinning ear to ear with his patent shades on while checking out his new ride. “I was so nervous during the playoff session that I couldn’t even daub the paper. My wife had to do it for me,” shared Lenny. “My current truck is quite the gas guzzler, getting something like 11-miles per gallon, so having something just as roomy but with much better fuel efficiency sounds real good right about now.”
During the evening session, the grand prize winner of a 2022 Chevy Colorado truck went to 20-year-old Paulette Williams. She admitted this occasion was her first time ever playing bingo and throughout the session she almost bailed early multiple times. Luckily, she stuck around.
“I thought I was going to go home a loser for sure. Guess not, huh,” joked Paulette with her friends as she started up her truck for the first time. “I’ve never had my own truck before. This is pretty cool. I like it. Three different times I was ready to leave and do something else because I wasn’t coming close to winning any of the bingo games. Now, I’m really looking forward to cruising to the beach and doing some donuts.”
Who knew yelling out “BINGO!” would result in doing donuts on the beach? Yet, another super cool memory made at the annual tribal bingo celebration. Next, years can’t come soon enough.