Trivia time for Dover’s Tricentennial: Friends of Old Dover offers up unique Christmas gift

DOVER — What city in Delaware will be celebrating its 300th birthday in 2017? The choices are Wilmington, Dover, Smyrna or Hartly.

The answer is — Dover.

That question is probably not among the many Dover-centric queries in the Tricentennial Trivia Game that the Friends of Old Dover created in recognition of the capital city’s milestone birthday next year.

However, there are nearly 150 other questions organized into 12 different categories that will challenge even the most ardent Dovereans’ knowledge about everything Dover.

“Next year is Dover’s 300th birthday – 1717 to 2017,” said Bonnie White Johnson, chairman of the Friends of Old Dover’s trivia game committee. “So we said, ‘Trivia game? How do you do that?’”

Inventors of the Dover Trivia Game, from, left, Zachary Prescott, Ann Baker Horsey, Cindy Christiansen and Bonnie White Johnson. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

It took a year-and-a-half to put together and a lot of blood, sweat and tears, but the Friends of Old Dover are pleased with the final product, which is a cube-shaped box that and contains multi-colored cards filled with interesting trivia questions about Dover.

The Tricentennial Trivia game costs just $20 and makes a unique locally produced Christmas present. The game can be purchased exclusively at the Delaware Store at 325 S. State Street right next to the historic Green.

The Dover Trivia Game category cards.

Cindy Christiansen, the wife of Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen, came up with the idea for the trivia game for the Friends of Old Dover, whose mission is historic preservation. They have been in existence as a volunteer non-charitable group for 83 years.

Mrs. Christiansen said she just feels like people are not paying as much attention to the city’s rich history as they have in the past – particularly younger children.

“I did it because I lived in Dover all of my life and I really felt like with the new Common Core and all of the different things going on in the state that local history is not being taught the way it should be taught,” Mrs. Christiansen said. “When my generation’s gone, I want something else that the younger generation could relate to and understand.”

Mrs. Christiansen thinks that with Dover’s 300th birthday coming up, it is important to stress the importance the city has had on the nation’s history, among other things.

Boxes of the Dover Trivia Game.

“When you ask younger children about the Constitution or where the Green is, they go, ‘Hmmm, yeah,’” she said. “You know what they figure? The Schwartz Center, because they go see plays there.

“It’s sad because I learned (local history) when I was in school and I went to Capital School District all my life and it’s not being taught. It’s not that I think the teachers don’t want to teach it, it’s just that there are so many other things to do.”

So the Friends of Old Dover, including Ms. Johnson and Mrs. Christiansen, organized a game committee that also includes: Ann Baker Horsey (editor), Jan Crumpley (publisher), Jack Richter and Donna Josefowski (inestimable contributors), and Zachary Prescott and Adrianne Bautista (Wesley College interns).

“It was an incredible honor,” Mr. Prescott said. “I’ve lived here in Dover my whole life so to actually be able to put my name on 300 years of Dover history is incredible.”

Ms. Johnson said the internet has made the world much smaller these days and things such as local history can kind of get swallowed up by it all.

“I think way back when people were more involved in their communities where today it’s so worldly and it’s so easily accessible on the computer and in the newspaper,” she said. “I mean, you can pick up an old paper from say 1950 and there’s not all this stuff about China and all these other countries included in it. It’s Hartly, it’s all the little towns and things – and the people.”

So the Friends of Old Dover decided to design a trivia game not only for fun – but to be a teaching tool, as well.

Mrs. Christiansen said the game contains 12 categories, which was originally slated for 10, but was expanded due to the number of information the committee unearthed about the city.

Suddenly, there were a couple of additional categories such as “Friends of Old Dover” and “Trivia, Trivia” to join the game’s other categories, such as Religion, Education, Business, Industry, Public Service, Architecture and Agriculture, and others.

“You can play with two people, four people or even teams,” Mrs. Christiansen said. “In order to win, no matter if you’re playing as partners or teams, you have to have one of each colored card and you have 30 seconds to guess the correct answer. They are all multiple choice.

“For example, a question might be, ‘What kind of car races take place at Dover Downs, which was originally built for harness racing?’ And you give all the answers, ‘Classic drag, stock car, or Formula One,’ and then the person tries to guess the correct answer.”

She added, “There’s all different categories. There’s some that people are going to be familiar with and others that they are going to learn from. It’s a learning game.”

Christiansen said there are questions that touch on just about every part of life in Dover.

“Some questions are easy, some are more difficult,” she said. “It’s a learning experience, that’s the whole thing.

“Things such as, ‘The Ridgely House was built in 1726 by Thomas Parke at which location – 13 The Green, 7 The Green, 419 South State Street or 151 Kings Highway? The answer is 7 The Green.’”

Ms. Horsey was involved with editing and putting the questions together and into categories.

“I found is that it’s easy to formulate a question and an answer, but the hardest part is finding credible possible other answers that might stump a person and would go with (the answer),” she said. “That’s the hardest part that I found doing this. It’s all about being historically accurate.”

Ms. Johnson is hoping the trivia game sells well, but is also hoping she might find a couple of leftovers.

“We would like to donate a game to the fourth grades of the Capital School District if we get our bill paid first and if we don’t sell out, because it’s a limited edition and they’re selling very nicely,” said Ms. Johnson.

When it came to the trivia game, Ms. Johnson undoubtedly summed up the feelings of several of the members of the Friends of Old Dover’s game committee when she said, “It was more of a challenge than I ever expected.”

Looking local

for Christmas presents?

• Fifer’s Orchards offers locally flavored gift baskets and boxes filled with goodies from its orchard and store, located at 1919 Allabands Mill Road in Wyoming. Each gift basket is handcrafted and customized to your preferences. Plus, everything is locally fresh.

• Forney’s Too Ltd., at 102 W. Loockerman St. in downtown Dover, always has a unique idea or two for a gift idea, including a pair of newly featured Delaware signs.

• Cruise out to the Seven Sister’s Shop at 6038 Westville Road in Hartly and browse through hand-painted gourds, ornaments and whimisical folk art by local and family artists. Nothing strip mall about this place.

• Snuggle up with the gift of a favorite book from locally owned Acorn Books at 2421 U.S. 13 in Smyrna.

• Another way to stay warm over the holidays is with a craft beer from local brewers Fordham & Dominion (Dover), Blue Earl (Smyrna) and Mispillion (Milford) or some spirits from Painted Stave Distilling (Smyrna).

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