Wednesday, August 31, 2011

By David Saltzer, Senior Writer

How did you get to your last Angels game? Did you drive over Ortega Highway? Did you sit in traffic near Prado Dam? Did you enter the stadium off of Katella?

As you were driving to the stadium, did you ever wonder why Orange County ended up the way it did or how some of the places in the County got their names? Would it surprise you to know that Orange County was once part of the Wild West or helped the Union Army in the Civil War by producing wool for uniforms?

If you are like most people, history probably did not come easy to you. Think back to when you were in elementary school—were most of your history lessons just memorizing a bunch of names and dates?

What if you had the chance to change that for kids today? Would you do it? Would you want to make history exciting and fun?

Luckily, you have that chance right now. The Gift of History is an educational program designed to make history come alive for Orange County’s school children. All of Orange County’s 3rd grade students (over 35,000 total students!) are going to come to Angels stadium on Tuesday, November 8th, to attend an event to learn all about Orange County.

Each student in attendance will be given a copy of the book Nothing Rhymes with Orange, written by Stan Oftelie, which tells the story of how Orange County changed from its founding days up to one of the largest and wealthiest counties in the country. It’s a great and easy read, written for 3rd graders—but parents will find it just as fun. In it, you can learn all sorts of facts about the county, such as how Anaheim ended up with a German sounding name or how Katella started out as a dirt road named for John B. Rea’s daughters and ended up as a major road in Orange County. Along the way, you will meet many of Orange County’s cast of interesting characters, from Uncle Billy Spurgeon (the ‘49er who founded Santa Ana) and Dick Harris (the first Sheriff in Orange County who had an “unfortunate accident”) to John Wayne, Gene Autry and Arte Moreno.

Think about the energy that 35,000 3rd graders will bring to Angels stadium. For most, it may be their first trip ever to see the stadium. There will be representatives from all sorts of industries, such as Disney and the Angels, as well as many local public figures. It will be certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest history lesson ever! If you thought that the snuggly blanket or wrestling mask events had energy, this will blow them out of the water.

With schools starting up across Orange County, now is the time to help with the Gift of History. As we all know, schools are short on money. Most do not have money for field trips. But, history, especially local history, needs to be taught outside of the classroom. Children learn best when they are engaged, and what better way to engage them than to bring them all together and to see how vast and how great the County really is.

You can help make this happen by donating to the Gift of History by clicking on this link. A donation of $10 is enough to support one child with transportation to and from the event and a copy of the book. For $350, you can support an entire classroom. And, for $1,000, you can support an entire school!

To give Angels fans an idea of the types of things that they can learn about Orange County, sat down with Stan Oftelie, the author of Nothing Rhymes with Orange. In our conversation, he tells us about how the early history of the team, how they came to Orange County, and how the stadium got built. For Angels fans, this is a must watch. Click here to watch our interview.
Consider this: Every Angels fan knows how important 2002 was to the team and to the community. But, today’s entering 3rd graders were born in 2003! To them, it’s just a bunch of history. If we fail to impart on them the importance of all the great things that have happened in Orange County, or why things came to be, it will be lost. They might not know who John Wayne was or why he was important. And, they might not know how Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer ended up creating a World Champion baseball team.

With just a couple of months until this event, please consider donating today. Click here to help however you can.
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