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City Lights: Making history with stadium seminar

November 09, 2011|By Michael Miller
  • Peterson Elementary third-graders Jackson Schnoor, 8, center, and Ethan Nguyen, 8, right center, contemplate the answer to a historical question posted on the big screen as they and a total of 15,552 third-graders set the world record -- certified by the Guinness Book of World Records -- for the largest attended history lesson. About 180 elementary schools from 25 school districts across Orange County participated in the event at Angel Stadium in Anaheim.
Peterson Elementary third-graders Jackson Schnoor,… (Allen J. Schaben,…)

Maybe I'm no longer qualified to be city editor of the Huntington Beach Independent. I flunked the third-grade test.

Tuesday morning, I attended "Orange County's Gift of History," a seminar for the county's third-graders at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. It was a significant event, but I'll get to that part in a moment. What dismays me is that they asked one trivia question for which Huntington Beach was the right answer, and I blew it.

At the beginning of the hourlong lesson, which touched on the history of local transportation, sports, law enforcement and more, the big screen in the outfield showed a series of third-graders asking multiple-choice questions. When some brainy kid asked which Orange County municipality used to be nicknamed Oil City, I foolishly guessed Stanton, only to be embarrassed a few seconds later.

So it turns out I don't know everything there is to know about O.C. history. But at least now, I can say I'm a part of that history — world history, in fact.

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The Angel Stadium event, which several Huntington Beach elementary schools attended, was certified by a representative from Guinness World Records as the largest attended history lesson ever. A total of 15,534 students packed three levels of the ballpark, and the adults brought the total count above 17,000, according to spokesman Steve Greyshock.

The previous record-holder? According to Guinness, it was 1,198 children this July in Hertfordshire, England. After the Angels' second-place finish this season, it was nice to have a blowout victory of some kind at the Big A.

Seriously, though, I had a good time at "Orange County's Gift of History." Half a dozen speakers took the podium, including the Disney Channel's Caroline Sunshine and Department of Education Supt. Bill Habermehl, and made grand entrances in a horse-drawn carriage, an old fire engine and other historic vehicles.

And in addition to the Surf City question I missed, I learned some other fascinating trivia. So take the following quiz and see how much you know:

1. Where did Katella Avenue in Anaheim get its name?

A. From the Dutch word for "Orange"

B. From the surname of the county's first treasurer

C. From a local family who had two daughters named Kate and Ella

2. What has been the biggest factor in Orange County's population growth over the last 50 years?

A. Freeways

B. Disneyland

C. Overcrowding in Los Angeles County

3. Orange County has more than 3 million residents now. How many did it have when it began in 1889?

A. 1.5 million

B. 13,000

C. 247,000

Pencils up! The answers are C, A and B.

Sitting in the press box facing the infield, I remembered another piece of Orange County history. Decades ago, my dad and I often showed up at the ballpark 10 minutes before game time and bought seats right behind home plate. Back then, the Angels were a perennially awful team — let's see, their records were 72-90 in 1992, 71-91 in 1993 and 47-68 in 1994.

There, I do know some things.

City Editor MICHAEL MILLER can be reached at (714) 966-4617 or at michael.miller@latimes.com.

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