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Vegas Night at Monterey – 2015

Once a year Monterey’s gamblers have a real stroke of luck. Instead of traveling to the gambling spots, the gambling tables come to them. It’s called Vegas Night – four hours when the Yacht Club is converted into a mini-casino, and players roam from one attraction to the next with wads of play money clutched in their hands.

At some tables the bills are converted to chips, and everybody finds places for  them on an array of numbers and squares laid out on the table. When the wheel stops, workers are quick to size up the situation and pay the winners with little down time. No one cares if you don’t quite know what’s going on.

Black Jack tables line the far wall. Dealers with splendid little shuffling machines take charge of dealing the cards, analyzing the array of card combinations all around the table, and paying off the winners. If one of the players has a losing streak and walks away, no matter.  Plenty of people are milling about, ready to occupy the vacant seat.

Near the end of the evening is the horse race with real, live horses.  If the horses are actually ladies pushing little wooden sticks, who cares? The excitement builds as numbers are called and horses inch forward, with a big shout when one crosses the finish line and bets are paid off.

The final attraction is a drawing for donated prizes and an auction for spending whatever play money you have left when the gambling tables shut down. It’s a night when everybody goes home with something, even if it’s only the intent to come back next year.

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Second Time Around Sale 2015

The click of the pool cue behind closed doors ceases. For insiders it’s the signal that the annual magic is about to begin, while the pool table takes on new life as the collection center for goods coming from every point of the Monterey compass.

Everybody knows the drill. Treasures of all descriptions, soon to see a change in ownership, are sorted into categories, packed into boxes, and eventually transported to assigned counter space. The clubhouse becomes a warehouse: couches, tables, and chairs; coats and shirts; toasters and radios; beads and earrings; lamps and golf bags all find a space to await the big day, when, in a span of four hours, it will all disappear, and a huge pile of dollar bills will take its place.

It’s the “Second Time Around Sale,” a high holiday at Monterey in which virtually everybody has a role that is repeated year after year, yet is never quite the same as the year before. Everyone’s home contains at least one treasured object found and purchased at this remarkable event, and everyone’s thinking is trained on the potential sales value of whatever has outlived its usefulness.

Think you’re seen everything? Not unless you’ve seen Monterey on the first Saturday of February.

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