Narvae Fenwick Rodriguez, executive director of the Holyoke Council on Aging, announced last week that she was curtailing Friday night bingo from four times a month to two. She alleged that senior citizens were banging on doors, yelling, threatening to egg cars and sneaking people in for lunch when a ticket was required.
"The Friday bingo mindset seems to infect people who behave rationally all other days of the week," Rodriguez told MassLive.
"She's putting that way out of hand. It's not that bad," 77-year-old Lorraine Gorham told MassLive.
Gorham and others responded with calls to city councilors and circulated a petition to ensure bingo stays available at the Senior Center four Fridays a month.
Rodriguez said the alleged behavior stemmed from senior citizens impatient to enter the multipurpose room where bingo is held. Other problems include seniors competing for seats at tables, Rodriguez said in an email to a city council member.
"In (one) case, a player yelled at a board member because the board was meeting in the multipurpose room prior to bingo,” Rodriguez wrote. “Though it was only 11:15, and bingo doesn't start until 1, she didn't think the board had any right to prevent her from getting to her coveted seat."
Gorham acknowledged seniors were eager to get seated in a desired location, but she said she is unfamiliar with the situation described by Rodriguez.
"They just want to get in there and sit down," Gorham told MassLive. "She's putting that way out of hand. It is not that bad. I am there 90 percent of the time and I have not seen that."
In an email, Rodriguez wrote that she know senior citizens were frustrated.
"We, the staff and the board of directors, have tried to address the issues with Friday bingo administratively for over two years,” she wrote. “Our guiding principle is that programming at our senior center is decided by our seniors. It's difficult to have to go in this direction."