News Local

Ping pong spikes Legion interest

By Stefania Seccia

Dozens show up every week to play ping pong at the Billy Bishop Royal Canadian Legion in Kitsilano.
(Cris Mengatto, submitted)

Dozens show up every week to play ping pong at the Billy Bishop Royal Canadian Legion in Kitsilano. (Cris Mengatto, submitted)

Every Thursday night for the past year, a few dozen people get their paddles ready to play ping pong on the second level of the Billy Bishop Legion in Kitsilano, which has helped keep its doors open and attract a younger crowd.

Jeremy Baum, director of Kitsilano Ping Pong Social Club, does it for two reasons: a place to play ping pong in his neighbourhood and to breathe life back into the pub.

“A buddy and I would have meetings in the legion’s lower level and recognized it was quite sparse,” he said.

At first, only friends and family filled the hall for the ping pong action on six tables, said Baum.

“Then word of mouth just travelled,” he said. “We also have a 24-seat lounge, and people can come play games, Jenga, have a couple drinks.

“I’ve seen some Tinder dates there and that’s always fun to see unfold.”

Baum said more than 20 people show up every week.

“We’ve noticed a definite draw to the place since the event has gone up,” he said. “It’s rebuilt itself to a younger community.

Peter Jensen, office manager of the Billy Bishop Branch, said the weekly event has helped inspire new interest.

“A lot of legions are in serious trouble and a couple have closed just recently and it’s because generally of the older population coming to the legion,” he said. “We, on the other hand, have been quite successful here.

“Not that we’re making huge money, but we’re not going bankrupt.”

Debbie Hretchka, president of the Billy Bishop branch, said the ping pong club has helped boost membership.

“We definitely get the overflow,” she said. “One of the things that’s driven up business is definitely getting those people to come in, and when they do come in, we approach them, talk to them about the legion, and show them around.”

For more information, visit kitspingpong.com.

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