Staff Report

The competition was fierce to win one of 60 turkeys at the annual Turkey Bingo event on Saturday, Nov. 17. For half an hour before the doors opened, several hundred people waited patiently outside the Solvang Veterans Memorial Hall to secure a seat.

Once seated, people spread multiple Bingo cards around them, and emcee Frank Kelsey drew the bingo balls and announced the numbers.

Turkey bingo

Solvang Elementary School student Campbell McClurg was busy selling pizza during the annual Turkey Bingo event on Nov. 17.

This year’s event was turned over to the Solvang School Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) and the Solvang Arts and Music (SAM) Foundation by the Alpha Pi sorority that had organized it for the past 30 years.

The biggest change for participants was the shift from 10 cents per bingo card to a flat rate for the evening. SAM and PTO also held a raffle throughout the event with prizes focused on food and family fun for the holidays.

“I know that people have been talking about the change from using dimes to the flat rate, but regardless of the organization taking over it would have changed anyways. The point is, the tradition continues and we all get to have a good time with our family and friends,” Kelsey told the audience, who applauded.

“Our committee was amazed by the turnout and the willingness of so many members of the community to embrace the changes we made to Turkey Bingo this year,” said Victoria Martinez, president of the Solvang School Parent Teacher Organization (PTO).

“We are happy to find an organization that will continue the tradition of over 100 years of Turkey Bingo,” said Alpha Pi President Pam Johnsen. “We are happy to ‘pass it on,’ as it was to us.”

The event was begun in 1913 by the Hejls Minde 23 Chapter of the Danish Society of Dania of California and Nevada. The wives of the Dania men started the Danish Ladies Society, Dannebrog of Dania, and took over the event in 1937. The Alpha Pi sorority then took over in the late 1980s.