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Edmontonians to host Canada-wide virtual music bingo game

A Bingo card from the game.
A Bingo card from the game. Karen Bartko/Global News

A virtual game of musical bingo is drawing attention across Canada.

“Bingo Toonz” — in which the traditional numbered balls are replaced by snippets of songs — has been played at Edmonton bars for the past 12 years. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, things had to change.

“The host of the show, Scott Parsons, suggested we do it online with Zoom instead,” said Jamie Edgar, owner of Mr. Entertainment.

“Without really knowing what we were doing in March, we ended up with 100 people playing.”

A screen showing the Bingo Toonz players participating via the Zoom video chat app.
A screen showing the Bingo Toonz players participating via the Zoom video chat app. Courtesy: Stacy Desjardins

Brendon Desjardins has been playing on Saturday nights from his Edmonton home with his wife, Stacy.

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“I was skeptical at first,” Desjardins admitted. “But, now this is my ninth week doing the game. Other people’s enthusiasm grew everyone else’s.

“It really has a great atmosphere. I kind of feel like I had a night out.”

He said this is “definitely not your average night of bingo.”

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Brendon and Stacy Desjardins dressed up in onsies while playing Bingo Toonz from their home in Edmonton, Alta.
Brendon and Stacy Desjardins dressed up in onsies while playing Bingo Toonz from their home in Edmonton, Alta. Courtesy: Stacy Desjardins

After signing up to play during the week, players receive a PDF game card and Zoom login details. Each player’s game card lists different songs and artists under each letter. The host, Parsons, calls out a letter and then plays a clip from a song.

If a player has it, they mark it off just like in regular bingo. The rounds include straight lines, corners, picture frame, and at the end of the game, a full card black-out.

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All of the players are muted during the game, so if they fulfill the requirements for that round, they type “BINGO” and their card number in the chat screen within Zoom so Edgar can verify it.

“We’ve noticed people have DJ lights in the background, costumes, it’s crazy. People have so much fun.”

There’s also “interactive” squares on the bingo cards, in which Parsons will announce a fun challenge for players take part in.

Past interactives have included dances like the Macarena, Cadillac Ranch and even the chicken dance.

“We started to spotlight guests and bring them up on the screen. The chat was lighting up. We were seeing a bunch of energy. It was a different type of show that I’m falling in love with,” Parsons said.

Brendon and Stacy Desjardins playing Bingo Toonz from their home in Edmonton, Alta.
Brendon and Stacy Desjardins playing Bingo Toonz from their home in Edmonton, Alta. Courtesy: Stacy Desjardins

It also appears a few participants may also be feeling the love.

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“There may have been a few romances that started up via the chat,” laughed Parsons. “One time, I was ending the game and two of our regulars were still chatting. I sort of exited the Zoom room and said ‘Okay, I’m just going to leave you two to chat!'”

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Soon, they began to see players logging in from other provinces.

“We thought ‘Why not try to do a Canada wide game?'”

Now, nearly every province and territory is represented, although Edgar said they are still waiting on someone from Quebec to register.

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The game is free to play, although participants are encouraged to make a donation to their local food bank if they take part. Normally prizes are handed out from a local sponsor bar, however the Canada-wide game is just for fun.

“Saturday’s game isn’t about winning prizes. It’s about being unified with someone across the country,” Edgar said.

You can sign up for the Canada-wide game here. The game begins Saturday at 7 p.m. MT.

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— With files from Karen Bartko, Global News