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Van Gilder has been calling games at Flamingo Bay for 20 years

December 5, 2018
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

Bingo has been played at Flamingo Bay for longer than anyone can remember - possibly 40 years or more. For about half of that time, Terry Van Gilder has been calling the game every Friday night.

"Twenty years ago a neighbor of mine, Ray Shepard, had been calling bingo for many years," Van Gilder said. "He asked me if I was interested in giving it a try and I came over one night to watch him and thought it would be fun. That was 20 years ago."

Van Gilder is originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Article Photos


Terry Van Gilder at a familiar spot at Flamingo Bay.

"I really don't know how my grandfather found out about Pine Island," Van Gilder said. "It was during the 1960s that they purchased an empty lot here in Flamingo Bay and built a place. Then my parents came."

Van Gilder and his wife came to stay with his grandparents 38 years ago and fell in love with Pine Island.

"We bought an empty lot and built a house," Van Gilder said. "We're snowbirds and still go back and forth but we have the best of both worlds. The summers up there are beautiful and when the weather turns cold we head for Pine Island."

The Van Gilders stay busy working with the Pine Island Food Pantry and the dinners and dances at Flamingo Bay Community Center.

"We have people come from far and wide for bingo," Van Gilder said. "We have more people from Cape Coral than you'd expect and even had a couple from Bonita Beach that come every week. They said they always have fun."

Bingo begins this Friday, Dec. 7, at 6:30 p.m. According to the press release, "Researchers have found that playing bingo has multiple health benefits, besides bringing an income to our association. It takes concentration which improves listening and short-term memory skills, it promotes socialization which is essential to maintain a happy and healthy lifestyle and helps to enhance and maintain a high-level of eye-hand coordination."

"We have a wonderful group that helps get everything together," Van Gilder said. "The staff is fabulous, we have a great time and everybody is welcome. By 9:30 or so we're on our way home. So come play bingo for the health of it!"



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