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BlueNote Speakeasy a Rousing Success

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues
During the prohibition years of the 1920s, patrons of local bars and taverns had to keep quiet if they found an establishment that served alcohol.

If a customer was loud when ordering drinks, a bartender would be forced to remind them to “speak easy” to avoid raising suspicion.

And so the infamous speakeasys were born.

While the spirit of the speakeasy was alive and well at the 2011 Blues Casino Night on Wednesday, nobody was really keeping its events on the down-low.

Instead, Blues fans that attended were anxious to tell everyone about all the fun they had.

“I’ve been to Casino Night three times now,” said Blues fan Marissa Dampf. “I come for the fun, the gambling and the food.”

Wednesday’s event featured all of those things, in addition to help from the entire Blues roster. Most players served as dealers at blackjack tables. Eric Brewer and Alex Pietrangelo worked the roulette wheel, while David Backes and Erik Johnson each tried their hand at craps.

In keeping with the speakeasy theme, perhaps the only “hush-hush” part of Wednesday’s event was that the gambling wasn’t real. A successful night at the tables meant exchanging “Blues Bucks” for raffle tickets to win great prizes at the end of the evening.

The real winner? The St. Louis Blues 14 Fund and all the organizations it supports.

“Supporting the Blues 14 Fund is a lot of fun,” said Johnson. “To come out here with people who care about the Blues and the community, it’s a great thing for us and it’s fun to be a part of. (We’re up for) anything to help out kids in the community.”

“Right now, the casino’s open, you’re gambling and you’re at a table with people that watch you,” Backes said. “You get to know some personalities and see some of the character come out of the guys.

“(Casino Night) is the biggest fundraiser for the Blues 14 Fund, and we’re here having a great time and raising money for a great cause. It’s one evening out of our lives to really have fun with a bunch of people that support us.”

Wednesday marked Pietrangelo's first Casino Night as a member of the Blues.

“I’m not very good at what I’m doing (at the roulette table). I’m usually better on the other side of it, but it’s a learning curve and I’m having a lot of fun.

“It’s important to get out and talk to the fans," he added. "This thing’s a pretty good cause, too. The 14 Fund has done a lot in the community.”

The Blues 14 Fund was founded in 1998 and named after the late Doug Wickenheiser, who scored the game-winning goal in the legendary Monday Night Miracle game in 1986. Wickenheiser wore No. 14 and lost a battle with cancer in 1999.

Since its inception, the Blues 14 Fund has donated more than $2 million to organizations in the St. Louis community that promote the health and wellness of youth.

The event raised more than $80,000 for charity through ticket sales and live and silent auctions.

So while the speakeasys of the 1920s kept things on the down-low, everyone at Casino Night was raving about raising money for a good cause. Of course, something that like that is worth mentioning loud and clear.

And when it benefits the Blues 14 Fund, well, that's a sure bet.

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