SEATTLE - You might think of the Elks Club as a place for a few cigar-chomping old men. But Ballard's Elks Lodge #827 is a whole new scene.
"We're having a little bit of a resurgence," said spokesman Brad Hole.
There's something very modern happening at this chapter of the century-and-a-half-old social club. It has one of the youngest memberships in the nation.
"We're also the fastest-growing lodge in the country," Hole said.
In just four years, Ballard has blossomed.
"It's gone from about 400 members to over 1,300 now," Hole added.
What's the secret? Could be the location.
"We've got this amazing lodge that's on the water," Hole said. "Beautiful view. We've got a deck. We've got a little private beach here."
Visitor Marco Scheuer added, "The sunset here is unreal."
They also have a community-oriented philosophy. In addition to the club dues that keep the place running, activities like weekly standup paddle board races raise money for scholarships. And events throughout the year contribute to other local and national charities.
"As we grow that number gets higher and higher," Hole said.
Sure, you'll still spot some gray hair around here. And that's part of the charm.
"We have 25-year-olds and we have people in their 90's," Hole said.
But the days of the all-male Elks club are long gone. Something that took Natalie DeLeon by surprise just before she joined.
"When I asked a group of guys that I saw up on the deck, I said, 'Can girls go up there?'" DeLeon recalled. "And they're like, 'Yes, of course they can.'"
The drinks are still strong, and so is the camaraderie, which is why this old club looks like it has a very bright future.
Hole said, "There's something pretty special here."
Ballard Elks Lodge #827
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