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By late morning on June 21, the Alexandria Room at Edmond Town Hall was teeming with activity.
The Longest Day, a special event hosted by Newtown Bridge Club (NBC) to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Association through its membership in the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL), drew so many interested players that overflow tables needed to be set up in the building’s Old Courtroom, two floors below.
NBC Club Manager Susan Fronapfel was nonplussed.
“This was more than we expected,” she said late Wednesday morning, looking over the 26 tables of foursomes in the main space of the third floor room at the town hall. “We had to move a few people, but they all see to be happy that they’re playing, so that’s worked out just fine.”
The day opened with a free bridge lesson at 9, followed by an Open duplicate series of games.
As 1 o’clock approached, some groups finished play and began looking toward the kitchen area of the special events rooms, where lunch offerings were being set up. Others continued final hands, playing as close to the top of the hour as they could.
The afternoon session, NBC had scheduled another three-hour session. Pro-Am duplicate games had Life Masters paired with amateurs, or non-Life Masters.
“We had 15 tables that played in the Pro-Am, so lots of people got to play with players they’ve never played with before,” Ms Fronapfel said June 29. “Everybody said they had a good time.”
For the evening duplicate session, players had both an Open session and a game for new players. Sixteen tables were filled for that session, according to Ms Fronapfel.
Purple balloons dotted the perimeter of the Alexandria Room, and many participants were wearing purple in honor of the Alzheimer’s Association.
This was the fifth year ACBL, an inaugural partner of the special event, hosted The Longest Day. Clubs hosted tournaments, offered lessons, and played multiple sessions to advance the mission of the association: “To eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.”
Clubs across the country reportedly played games from sunrise to sunset. On its website, the Alzheimer’s Association reported 230 registered teams, representing 356 participants, had participated in the 5th Annual Longest Day. As of June 28, ACBL had posted that $333,877.50 had been raised following last week’s play.
Newtown’s tally had not been finalized as of June 29, Ms Fronapfel said, “but it’s definitely going to be over $4,000,” she added. The club had set a $1,000 goal for itself.
“We really exceeded our expectation,” she said, laughing. “We’re very grateful for the folks who donated — our players, and the sponsors who donated a lot of food. It was really a special event for everybody.”
The local bridge club had been aware of The Longest Day event in the past, she said, but logistics made it difficult to organize before ths year.
“Previously, Longest Day either hasn’t fallen on days when we had games already scheduled, or we didn’t have the facility,” Ms Fronapfel said. “Some people were disappointed that we didn’t do this last year, so we decided to bring the idea to our board early this year. They were very supportive.”
While Newtown Bridge Club opted to host a bridge event, groups across the country selected activities they loved and used those to raise funds. Dances, hikes, performances, bowling matches, bicycling, gardening, and golfing were among the activities reported by the Alzheimer’s Association as being utilized to fundraise last week.
Newtown Bridge Club, the second largest bridge club in Connecticut, holds five ACBL-sanctioned duplicate bridge games each week at Edmond Town Hall: 12:30 pm Mondays, 10 am and 7 pm Tuesdays, 10 am Wednesdays, and 12:30 pm Thursdays; and a monthly Sunday Swiss team game. Bridge lessons are scheduled at various times.
Ms Fronapfel said she is certain the club will host another Longest Day event.
“This was the first time we’ve done this, and I’m sure it won’t be the last,” she said. “Next year it will fall on a Thursday, so we’ll have the facility for at least the early part of that day. Hopefully we’ll be able to resrve the space for the full day if we work in advance again.”
This feature is expanded from the version that appears in the June 30, 2017 print edition of The Newtown Bee.