Friends kickoff anniversary celebration with linguistic clash

Johanna Ruggiero, left, and Joni McCabe discuss strategy at the Letters for our Library Scrabble Challenge at St. Michael's Lyceum in Beacon Falls March 24. Their team, The Letter Heads, came in third.

BEACON FALLS – The town’s best wordsmiths went head-to-head last night at the Friends of Beacon Falls Library Third Annual Letters for our Library Scrabble Challenge.

Fourteen teams competed for the three top prizes, plus the chance to lord their linguistic and strategic prowess over their lesser minions.

The event raised money for the library and brought the community together to kickoff a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Friends of the Beacon Falls Library (FoBFL).

The Friends is a volunteer organization that supports the library by raising funds to check items off the library’s wish list that the town can’t afford in its budget.

“It’s kind of an outreach into the community from the library to raise awareness about the library’s services, library’s needs, and what the library can do for patrons and taxpayers,” said Martha Melville, secretary of the FoBFL.

Melville said the tournament goes along with what the library’s all about – literacy.

At the tournament, teams of four to six worked together to get as many points as possible in a half hour of play. Teams can buy cheats such as a tips booklet, three peeks at the dictionary, or three extra letter tiles.

Last year, the event raised about $1800.

“It’s very competitive, but it’s all in fun,” Melville said.

Joni McCabe of the Letter Heads said her team planned to buy three extra letters. She scoffed, jokingly, at the suggestion that they were cheating.

“We’re enhancing our game by buying letters,” McCabe said.

The four ladies of the Letter Heads were serious about winning this time.

“The plan is, we’re going to win. We’re in it to win it,” Johanna Ruggiero said.

The friends even sported Scrabble board headbands designed by team member Sandi Concilio with their team name.

“This time, we’ve thought about it ahead of time. Hopefully that will make the difference,” McCabe said.

It did. The Letter Heads came in third with 2,435 points.

While winning was on everyone’s minds, all the participants said their main goal was to have fun and support the library.

“We believe in the cause and I needed to learn how to spell. …We have the very best library, the best,” team member Arlene Sorrintino said.

This year, the Scribble Scrabblers hoped to defend their champion title from last year.

The team hadn’t practiced, but they are all avid Scrabble players who have been competing together for seven or eight years, they said.

Team member Janet Adams said they planned to buy a hint book and three letters.

“It’s not about how many Zs and Qs you can get. It’s what you do with the letters you have,” Adams said.

She said she’s seen other teams buy 20 extra letters but still lose the game.

“This is our favorite tournament,” Adams said.

The Awesome Six won first place two years ago, and came in second last year.

“We’re hoping to reclaim our trophy,” said Karen Cofield, a member of the team.

She said she did some research on good words and plays Scrabble online with her daughter.

The Scribble Scrabblers and Awesome Six improved their scores from last year, but let the letters slip through their hands this time.

The A Team, Lisa Hurlbert, Dan Hurlbert and Joanne Keeler, took first place with 3,260 points beating the Scribble Scrabblers high score last year of 2,036. Girls Night Out with team members Sara Jane Weinstein, Christine Monti, Rita Schryver, Mary Harvey, Jennifer Fleischmann and Rae Rella came in second with 2,746 points.

Other teams competing included the Word Junkies, Mom Squad, Monroe Masterminds, Word Smiths, Rotary Club, Tile Style, Lions Roar, Bungay Bees, and Beacon Word Smiths.

“It went very well,” said Marsha Durley, the library’s director. “That event is always a lot of fun.”

The money will go into a building fund for a new library and also helps with library programs, such as providing refreshments for speakers and home deliveries for people who are homebound, according to Melville.

With their anniversary coming up next month, the Friends have more activities planned to get the community involved in the bibliophilic spirit.

The FoBFL is seeking artistic designs for a logo contest to be used on the Friend’s banner and shirts. Anyone can enter for the chance to win the top prize of $50, and a new shirt featuring the logo. Everyone who enters will receive a “Save a Tree – Borrow a Book” library bag. Email entries to and include your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address along with an attached jpeg of your entry.

Melville said the Friends have received five entries so far and are hoping for more. The deadline is April 15.

The FoBFL will announce the winner of the logo contest at their open house April 30. The event will celebrate the Friend’s contributions to the library over the past 20 years.