Drag BINGO has been going strong for more than 20 years

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It is clearly advertised as “This ain’t your grandma’s BINGO,” and boy, are they right.

From drag queens, to feather boas, to raunchy and ribald humor, the evening is not for the faint of heart.

Held every third Thursday of the month at the Riviera Bingo Palace on Elmwood Avenue in Cranston, it is for those who want to have a fun night, laugh a lot, and raise money for a wonderful cause.

Each month, there is a different theme surrounding the games, and this November it was a canned food drive to benefit the community in need.

“We started the food drive in September, and we have raised over 5,000 pounds of food, allowing us to reach over 200 families,” said Chris Cedroni, Communications Coordinator for AIDS Care Ocean State.

Drag bingo is entering their twenty-first year, and while there is an ebb and flow to the numbers of people who attend, the crowds are consistently getting bigger. In November alone 529 people came out.

“We work very hard for our community and are proud to say that since drag bingo has started we have raised close to $1.5 million,” Cedroni said.

“It’s an awesome night out. You never know what you’re going to see or hear. These ‘ladies’ are putting on a wonderful show all for a great cause. I had a great time going with our group of friends and laughing all night,” said Shelley Fusco, who brought her 18-year-old daughter, Kailey, for the first time.

After each few regular games there were “specials” that had higher prize amounts, and even a raffle that gave out special “adult” prizes.

A few of their upcoming events include a world AIDS Day at Barnes & Noble in Warwick, this Saturday, Dec. 2. On Dec. 6, there is a Holiday Toy Drive taking place at Sports Legends Pub in Warwick at 6 p.m. There is a Kinky Boots Opening Night to benefit AIDS Care Ocean State Friday, Dec. 8 at Providence Performing Arts Center.

There’s also Pride on Ice and a toy drive at the Alex and Ani City Center in Providence on Dec. 14 at 6 p.m.

To “wrap up” the toy drive there is a Jingle Bingo Ball & Toy Drive at the Riviera Bingo Palace in Cranston on Thursday, Dec. 21.

“Our programs relate to patient advocacy, transportation to and from medical appointments, referrals for medical and mental health services, emergency assistance, housing, and counseling for living with HIV, substance abuse, and mental disorders. We maintain a clinic on Broad Street where people can get tested for sexually transmitted infections, exchange needles, and get general support. As far as community outreach, we offer street outreach, and provide rapid HIV testing at wellness fairs, RI Pride, and several locations throughout the state. We also run a speakers bureau where groups can learn what it is like to be HIV positive experience and have their questions answered,” said Cedroni.

For a complete calendar of their events, or to learn more about their work, visit their web site aidscareos.org.

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