Starting at noon on (most) Sundays each year, the Knights of Columbus Council #1529 in Columbia holds bingo, and on about eight or nine of those Sundays, the person at the front of the hall calling the shots and running the show is Anthony (Tony) Lupo, an atmospheric science professor in CAFNR.
Lupo has been involved with the Knights of Columbus in Columbia for many years and has been calling bingo for about as long. Originally from Auburn, New York, for Tony, joining the Knights of Columbus was simply a part of the culture in which he grew up.
“If you were Catholic, where I was from, you joined the Knights of Columbus,” Tony says, although the charitable work the organization does for the community, as well as simply being an opportunity to have fun, were also factors in his decision to join. Having already been involved with the Knights of Columbus back in New York, after moving to Missouri in 1997, and discovering that the council in Columbia was quite large, he decided to join it that same year. Not long after, he was recruited to help out with bingo.
“The caller’s job is pretty big,” Tony says, as the role requires more than just reading numbers off balls. There are a number of rules the caller must enforce, including payouts, how the game is played, and who can even be inside the bingo hall itself. Although, he says, there have not been any major scandals involving bingo criminals trying to break these rules. “Most of the people that come are pretty well familiar with state laws.”
For Tony, the most exciting moment in any game comes when someone takes home a sizable prize. Recently the Knights of Columbus gave out their largest prize yet when a long-time participant took home a $6,000 jackpot.
“When somebody wins the big one it’s always exciting,” Tony says. “Especially if it is someone who has been playing for a while.”
However, for Lupo, the best thing about calling bingo is “knowing that my efforts are going toward raising money for various causes around Columbia.”
Each quarter, the Knights of Columbus donates $1,500 to different charities around the city, and the funds generated from their bingo games is one method they use to raise that money. Through the sale of the bingo cards, the money generated from the games, apart from whatever goes towards running them, goes to a number of different charities including scholarships, local education, and veterans charities, among many other causes.
“It’s a fun way to raise money for charities,” Tony says.
Tony also has held officers’ positions and been involved in other social and charitable events as part of the Knights of Columbus.
“It’s just a great group to be around,” he says.
And for anyone looking to win one of the big prizes, Tony has some advice.
“Well, since it is a random game, I would just say, either bring your rabbit’s foot, or pray to God, or your favorite deity, or just hope you get lucky.”