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Pirate Bingo

The Phoenix High School Music Booster Club is taking a gamble on a new idea for fundraising — opening a bingo hall.

Pirate Bingo, named after the school's mascot, will hold a grand opening Saturday afternoon in Suite B at The Shoppes at Exit 24 in Phoenix.

"The idea is used a lot outside of this area for supporting the arts and music programs," said Michael Spencer, a volunteer percussion teacher at Phoenix High School. He said Pirate Bingo is a new idea here, that he hopes shows a lot of promise.

"This weekend is just about introducing ourselves to the community," said Spencer.

The music booster club originally was created to support only the high school music program, but with the Pirate Bingo endeavor, the club hopes eventually to offer money to other youth performing arts groups throughout Southern Oregon.

"The elementary and middle schools are really hard up for funds for music programs," Spencer said. "We really want to help all performing arts."

Spencer worked on mounting LCD screens at the 1,800-square-foot Phoenix location Thursday.

"I've pretty much lived here for the last couple of weeks," said Spencer, who also works at a computer company. "I've put in several hundred hours of volunteer time."

Spencer originally got involved in the music department at Phoenix High School seven years ago, when his nephew mentioned that the music program could use his help. Since then, two of Spencer's own children have attended Phoenix High.

The Shoppes at Exit 24 have offered discounted rent for the bingo space, and the community has been generous with donations and volunteer time.

"It's been the little things that have helped us along the way," Spencer said. "It wouldn't happen without the community and all of our sponsors."

The grand opening celebration starts with a ribbon-cutting performance from the Phoenix High School band at 1 p.m.

While future games will offer traditional cash winnings, Saturday's game will offer donated prizes and gift certificates from local businesses.

Ideally, Spencer said Pirate Bingo will offer games Friday nights, and two games each on Saturday and Sunday.

Reach reporter Teresa Ristow at 541-776-4459 or email tristow@mailtribune.com.