TICONDEROGA-Not so long ago, bingo could be found in Ticonderoga every night of the week.
The Ticonderoga Fire Department, American Legion, Elks, Knights of Columbus and St. Mary's School hosted bingo throughout the week. Only one remains.
Ti firefighters host bingo every Thursday at 6:45 p.m. at the fire hall.
"We're the last one surviving," said Mary Cunningham, Ti FD president. "We're the only one left. We have faithful players who come put every week to support us."
This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Ticonderoga Fire Department bingo game. Cunningham said the weekly attraction draws 75-80 players.
That's good, she said, but attendance used to be better. The fire company averaged 100 people for bingo each week until the past year.
"I think it's the overall economy that's had an affect," Cunningham said. "We don't get as many players as we used to, but it's still profitable."
Bingo contributed about $8,000 a year to the fire department, the company president said. The money is used to make equipment purchases that can't be funded through the department's annual budget.
"Bingo indirectly helps keep taxes down," Cunningham said. "The budget money is used by (fire) commissioners to buy equipment the district just can't afford."
Ticonderoga's first ladder truck, purchased in the 1980s, was bought with bingo money, she said. The bingo fund has also paid for dive equipment and a jaws of life. Recently bingo money has purchased uniforms, bought a smoke generator used in firefighter training and been used to maintain the fire hall.
"Our main purpose is to fight fires," Cunningham said. "But bingo provides the underlying financial support the department needs."
Bingo is the largest and most-successful fundraising activity of the Ticonderoga Fire Department, Cunningham said. But for it to remain that way, changes must be made.