Instead of folding, organizers planning a Night at the Races fundraiser to help offset costs for the Wyoming Area Class of 2013's graduation-night party found another draw card.
They wanted to avoid canceling next weekend's affair, wasting months of planning and compelling them to refund payments for horses.
After an emergency meeting Wednesday night, organizers decided to go ahead with the fundraiser they're instead calling Night Without Races, scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 16 at St. Barbara's Hall, Exeter. Instead of placing a bet for a horse and having someone pour a cold one, the event turned into a BYOB bingo party with cash prizes, prize drawings and dancing to the tunes of a disc jockey.
The change of plan was prompted by the state police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement's reminder, issued earlier this week, that hosting Night at the Races events is unlawful due to three criteria that define gambling: consideration, chance and reward.
Throughout the area, other Night at the Races events planned for this weekend – including at St. Leo's/Holy Rosary Church in Ashley, St. John the Evangelist Parish in Pittston, and St. Monica Parish in West Wyoming – have been canceled because of the police warning.
Organizer Gina Malsky said there was no question the Wyoming Area fundraiser must go on. Everybody did so much work and everyone involved has been supportive, Malsky said. We're not going to throw the towel in. It wasn't the right thing to do.
Malsky received a phone call from a trooper on Monday explaining why Night at the Races is illegal, she said.
When I got off the phone with the state trooper, I thought it was someone trying to be funny, said Malsky. I had no idea. I've been fundraising for 17 years and did one for (Wyoming Area) cheerleaders in November.
The fundraiser will help to pay for the lock-in party – dancing, games and entertainment – the night of the Class of 2013's graduation, Malsky said. Graduates are locked in the hall and not permitted to leave until 6 a.m., when they are given money for breakfast.
The lock-in is a tradition at Wyoming Area; it's been held for many years, Malsky said.
The group obtained a small games of chance permit for the fundraiser, which makes bingo with cash prizes legal. For a small admission price, the revamped event will offer a Stay out of Jail buffet.