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The Union hosts bingo night with Caroline Curly Feb. 28, 2024.

Union Bingo Night provides a sober activity option for Athens

Every Wednesday night, the local bar and music venue The Union Bar, located at 18 W. Union St., hosts an event that differs from its usual offering of live music. From 8-10 p.m., the bar is run by Caroline Bresnahan, who hosts The Union’s own Union Bingo Night, an event free for attendees regardless of age.

Bresnahan, an Athens resident, saw a place for a community event like a bingo night in Athens and decided to fill it. She was inspired by her sister, who planned her own bingo night in Cincinnati. 

The Union provides all the supplies and prizes for Bingo Night, Bresnahan said. She said she has expanded the event with exclusive merch and sticker designs.

Richard Linscott, a manager at the Union, said determining the logistics of the event was tricky at first but has been working smoothly since the beginning.

“Bingo (Night) is closing in on us for a year, so we have all the systems in place, and everything's good now,” Linscott said. “It was a little rocky at first, just like finding out if we even have an audience for those things, determining the start time that was going to work for everybody.”

Bresnahan, who graduated from Ohio University in 2016, said after returning to Athens three years ago she noticed a lack of events and engagement targeted at people who aren’t 18-22 years old. 

“I moved back (to Athens) because of the community that I loved here, but being older and just … after COVID and lockdown, I lost a lot of social energy,” Bresnahan said. “So having this intentional event where I am putting myself back in that community on purpose was definitely the instigating incident that made me pursue a bingo night.”

Linscott said that after the COVID-19 pandemic, The Union staff made an effort to offer more than just alcoholic beverages and live shows.

“There are just a lot of large spaces that you can use to organize that aren't on campus or something and so we just kind of wanted to start doing that a little more,” he said. “We do have some older people and some community members that come to this stuff. So it just kind of checks a lot of boxes for ways that we're trying to consciously use our space.”

Bresnahan said going in this direction has been incredibly beneficial to Athens. Union Bingo Night is an unexpected addition to a bar, but it provides a great space for people to choose whether they drink.  

“The Union has definitely expressed wanting to continue to be a place for people who also aren't just wanting the typical Athens experience, which is I think a lot of partying, a lot of going out, they also want to offer these events that are lower pressure for drinking,” she said.

Hosting an event that has grown to be a staple has been helpful for both the bar and for the Athens locality at large, Linscott said.

“We love hosting it,” Linscott said. “People really don't come in for anything else. Come in for bingo trivia, they love it and they love the bar by extension. I think that's kind of what the community gets out of it.”

Looking forward, Bresnahan said the future of Bingo Night potentially extends into philanthropy.

“We are always in search of a charitable organization who maybe would want to sponsor bingo,” she said. “They would receive all the donations we make on bingo.”

The recurring event has gained significant traction among Athens residents and OU students, Bresnahan said. People of all ages and backgrounds come in every Wednesday for Bingo Night, and many people have become regular attendees.

“It's a weekly event that people have really rallied behind,” Bresnahan said. “We have so many regulars who come back every week and we're playing bingo, you know, not anything super crazy engaging, but I think it's fun, it's got really good energy. I just think it's a really nice event that is free and a little different than what a lot of Athens has to offer.”


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