By NICOLE ANTONUCCI
A full house was the hand to beat among the 100 players who participated in a poker walk Saturday.
The event, which is an extension of the annual softball games that are played each winter at the former Chalmers mill site on Bridge Street in Amsterdam, raised more than $1,500 for the Montgomery County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
"This is what it's about," organizer Nyle Nelson said, adding he was pleased with the turnout. "Even if we raised $1,000, that is $1,000 more than they started with."
Nelson, who has organized the softball games since 1981, said it was a way to break the boredom that comes with winter. He decided to add the poker walk this year because he wanted to help the dozen or so businesses on Broad Street.
During the walk, participants visited the establishments where they chose a playing card from a deck. An employee then marked the participant's tally sheet with the card they drew and gave them a free treat.
There were nine businesses that participated, including Herk's Tavern, Hair to There, Lucky Mini Mart, Parillo's Armory Grill, Girard's, Southside Food Co., L'Ultimo, Shorty's Southside and the Dolci Bake Shoppe.
"It's nice to see people walking South Side again," Phil Rossignol, owner of Southside Food Co., said. "It's a fun event and a good way to raise money."
Lisa Vertucci, owner of Dolci Bakery, agreed and said that she would participate again.
"I wouldn't miss it," she said. "It's all about the community gathering. A lot of people didn't know we were here and we have been here for four years."
Despite the cold and bitter wind, all participants were in good cheer and had a few laughs watching the game as the softball players struggled to round the bases.
"It's hard to get your footing," Nelson said as he watched his teammates roll in the snow trying to make it to home plate.
Softball teams consisted of approximately 20 players ranging in all ages. The games continued for two hours and afterward players had the opportunity to join the walk.
At the end, everyone regrouped at Herk's Tavern, where prizes were handed out. including a 50/50 raffle that raised more than $500.
Jan Zumbolo, interim shelter manager of the SPCA, said all proceeds would fund the cost of vaccinations and spay and neuter surgeries at the shelter.