Casino Night Draws More Than 300

By Riley McDavid   Riley McDavid

Clubhouse 5 in Laguna Woods Village is normally the site of some traditionally sedate activities: Sunday morning church services, ladies’ luncheons and teas, meetings of various community clubs and organizations.

But you can forget all that when the vans bringing the gaming team from Vegas Knights pull in the gate a few hours before Casino Night opens. By the time they’ve finished setting up, the normally taciturn Clubhouse 5 auditorium is transformed into Las Vegas without the smoke: tables for craps, blackjack, roulette, and all kinds of poker — Texas Hold ‘em, Let It Ride, Three Card, and Pai Gow. In another room, you can even play bingo.

Every year the atmosphere is made festive by the music of the Silver Foxes, and thanks to a bountiful snack table, nobody goes hungry at Casino Night.

Silver Foxes

The crowd loved the music of the Silver Foxes

Age Well’s Becky Lomaka had an early indication that this year’s Casino Night was going to be extremely well attended.  “When we drove up at six o’clock,” she said, “the parking lot was just about full.”

And indeed there was a terrific turnout. “At least 300 people,” said Shirley Witt, director of the Florence Sylvester Memorial Senior Center. “It was easily one of our better Casino Nights.”

Crowd
It was a full house, in the room and at some tables

“Look at this!” a fellow standing in the middle of the crowd said to no one in particular.  He was holding two handfuls of chips out in front of him.

“How much is it?” I asked.

“Hundreds!” he said.

Okay, not everyone was that fortunate, myself included.  I left most of my chips at a Let it Ride table.  But of course it was house money. And even some of those who didn’t win much at the tables took home some great prizes from the after-gambling raffle.

As skilled as the Vegas Knights’ dealers and croupiers are — and they are very, very skilled — most of them do not work in professional gaming rooms.  “I’ve worked these events for 15 years — private parties, charity events,  grad nights — all kinds of functions,” Allen told me. His day job? “I’ve been at Knott’s Berry Farm for 37 years.  Now I’m in the printing department. “ But you’d never guess that after seeing the way he handles a table. “Most Saturday nights I do this,” he said, gesturing to the room.

Dealer

The Vegas Knights’ dealers were terrific crowd pleasers

“We’re here to entertain and make sure people have fun,” one of Allen’s colleagues said.

But of course Casino Night has a back story to it.  It is the single biggest fundraiser in support of the Sylvester Center, which is vitally important in the lives of so many seniors. “For a lot of seniors it’s a home away from home,” Shirley Witt says.  “It’s a friendly place whether you come for coffee or for a class. The staff are friendly, the volunteers are friendly, and the seniors who come there are friendly.”

Casino Night couldn’t happen without the generous support of individual and corporate sponsors who underwrite the event. “Gaming tables,” Shirley points out, “are very expensive for a single evening.”

The single biggest individual sponsor is Dody Hohnstein, a strong supporter of the Center. The corporate sponsors include Bristol Park Medical Group, Bryant Investments, Marlene Bridges Realtor, and Monarch Health Care.

A few days after the event, Mrs. McD was playing bridge with her regular weekly foursome when one of the members, a newcomer to the Village, began describing this wonderful event she and her husband had gone to the previous weekend.  “Casino Night,” she said. “It was so much fun.  And everyone was so social.” She said her husband was even more delighted — he won three prizes in the raffle.

“How come I hadn’t heard about this?” another player asked.

As my ex-boss in the security business was fond of saying, there’s always someone who doesn’t get the memo.  So next year we’ll just have to work twice as hard to make sure everybody hears about Casino Night.

Coming up on the Age Well Calendar

August 11,  The Annual Founders’ Tea Dance at the Ritz Carlton, Dana Point.  The event will be in the Pacific Promenade featuring the Ritz-Carlton High Tea. Cocktail Reception 4:00-5:00 p.m. Tea & Recognitions 5:00 p.m. Dancing 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. to the Sam Conti Band. $45.00 per Person/Limited Seating No-host Bar.

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One Response to “Casino Night Draws More Than 300”

  1. admin says:

    A wonderful night of fun, raising money for the senior center.