Bridge Street bingo nearly a decade-old Vail tradition
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado — Most of the collective energy in Vail Village was concentrated in one spot last Wednesday night: the Red Lion. While the village was off-season slow, the longtime Bridge Street bar was anything but quiet. Nearly every seat in the house was full. Patrons held bingo dotters, or crayons, in their hands, which they kept poised over a bingo card – or three.
Kevin Sullivan, known simply as Sully to most everyone that’s ever stepped foot inside the Vail Village bar, pulled small plastic balls out of a cage and yelled out the numbers, along with some colorful commentary. Sullivan is a manager at the bar and the self-proclaimed bingo maestro. And he assuredly deserves the title – he’s been hosting bingo at the Red Lion for nine years.
“We started bingo in 2001, right after 9/11,” Sullivan said. “We were kind of in a funk and looking for something to do to pick up our spirits. It was kind of slow, so we started brainstorming. We tried a bunch of other games, like Twister, but bingo was the one that caught on.”
Every off-season since – both spring and fall – the bar dusts off the bingo balls and cage and rounds up the dotters. Bingo takes place every Wednesday in June at the Red Lion from 8 to 11 p.m.
After nearly a decade, the weekly event has quite a following, says Andrew Fusilli, a Vail resident who used to work at the Red Lion as a bartender.
“It’s always packed – last week was huge,” he said. “Like it says in the paper, it’s not your grandma’s bingo – it’s a little more edgy and lots of fun. Everyone is super nice. They let you play a few cards at a time, they’re not super strict on the rules. And it’s all free.”
People tend to come back week after week for bingo, Fusilli said, mainly because of Sullivan and his, shall we say, colorful sense of humor.
“If you really want to know, it’s Kevin Sullivan,” Fusilli said. “He’s the best. He’s been in town forever and he makes it fun.”
There are five rounds total and as they progress, the bar tends to get pretty lively.
“The later it gets, the more raunchy I get,” Sullivan said. “We do some family-friendly rounds earlier, then it gets a little R-rated as the night goes on.”
The other draw is the prizes. Coors Light sponsors the event, which means there’s plenty of swag to go around.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Courtney Hascritch, of Vail. “I look forward to bingo night, and come to every one I can. Last year, I won a bike.”
Last week, Sullivan gave out a snowboard, a few Mountain Smith backpacks, some gift certificates, DVD’ and CDs, Sullivan said.
“We always do a dinner and a movie round, which is a DVD of my choice and a $25 gift certificate to the Red Lion,” he continued. “We’re trying to get a Fat Tire beach cruiser to give away in the grand prize round. In years past we’ve given away a trip for two to Las Vegas, a Gibson electric guitar from Sobe and some longboards. This week I’m giving away a pro soccer ball in honor of World Cup.”
High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or firstname.lastname@example.org.