Five years ago, Gary Dodge decided to revive “gaming” at Connestee Falls. The Social Committee had run some kind of games about fifteen years ago and the old gaming tables were still available. Gary knew what he wanted to accomplish when he set out to establish “Casino Night”: he wanted to raise money to help the Connestee Falls Student Scholarship Program. And he did. The first year, he turned over about $1000 to the Scholarship Program. This year the figure is over $2000. The first year around one hundred people attended and twenty-five people helped Gary deal; this year, more than one hundred sixty people attended and there were thirty-eight dealers and four administrators present to keep the games going. There were twenty-four dealers for Black Jack, four for Roulette, four for Poker, four for craps, and two for Chuck-A-Luck. By any measure, the event has been a great success, especially for the students of Transylvania County who receive scholarship grants from the Scholarship Program. And Gary’s successful event has led to other successes. After he started Casino Night with the Social Committee, many other groups got involved in raising money for the Scholarship Program.
The event has also been a success for the residents of the community. Take, for example, Will Toscani: “It’s one of my favorite nights of the year,” he said as he expertly shuffled two decks of cards and dealt another hand of Black Jack. Bluffing his way around the table, Will kept the house in the black.
Another dealer who wished to remain anonymous enjoys watching people play and finds it exciting when a player is on a winning streak. This dealer opined that there is a difference between the men and the women who play: only the men think they know all the rules and can beat the house.
Angela Gardella was one of the four administrators for Casino Night. It was the first Connestee event in which she became involved. Having rented in Connestee for nine years, she and her husband bought in December 2016. She mentioned the “great sense of community” in Connestee and observed that they “love it because it is so philanthropic.”
Thanks to the Connestee staff, the food and service for Casino Night 2017 were remarkable. Great country and blue grass music was provided by Up Carsons Creek, all the members of which live near the stream of the same name. In all, it was a grand event. Kudos to Gary Dodge, all the volunteers, and the Connestee staff!
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