San Leandrans Match Wits in Annual Trivia Bee

  • October 24, 2011

More than 80 participants representing 28 teams competed in the trivia competition Friday night during a fundraiser for the San Leandro Public Library's Project Literacy program.

By Jennifer Courtney

Quick -- who appeared on Rolling Stone magazine's first cover in 1967? The Komodo dragon is native to which country? What does "MG" in Britain's MG Car Company stand for?

These were just three of more than 60 questions participants were tasked with answering during this year's annual Trivia Bee held on Oct. 21, a fundraising event sponsored by the San Leandro Public Library to raise money for its Project Literacy program.

A local tradition now in its 18th year, the Bee has raised up to $15,000 in years past for the library program, which offers volunteer tutoring and support to adults and families who wish to improve their reading and writing skills.

"We always have so much fun at the Trivia Bee," Library Services Manager Nancy Fong said, adding that the library is already beginning to plan how to celebrate the event's upcoming 20th anniversary.

Fong helps select trivia questions each year in conjunction with other library staff and some community members. Project Literacy coordinator Cinda Mariscal says the process "is a work of art" and no question is ever used twice since some teams feature longtime particpants.

This year 28 teams featuring 84 trivia buffs vied to become this year's champion.

Top honors went to Friends of the Library Gift Shop team members Max Gerry, Micheal Gerry and Saul Schultheis-Gerry, who broke a three-way tie by correctly answering the name of Netflix' canceled DVD spinoff service Qwikster.

This was the first gold medal win for the Gift Shop, which has fielded a successful team for several years, including last year when it came in second place.

The San Leandro Garden Club followed with second place, and a team of three Alameda County Local 55 firefighters, which won the Bee in 2006 and 2009, took third.

Last year's winners, family members of former San Leandro City Manager John Jermanis, did not field a team this year.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Robert Kurtz and Jeopardy winner Leslie Frates -- a Hayward resident and former Spanish professor at Cal State East Bay who has appeared on the television show 14 times -- split the duty of reading questions, which were broken up into three rounds plus a "sudden death" round for tiebreakers.

Frates said many of the trivia questions were of  "Jeopardy caliber" and the question about the MG Car Company (which, by the way, stands for Morris Garages) could have easily been a final Jeopardy question.

"I'm always happy to participate. It's for a great cause," she said.

Also as in years past, Kathy Kurtz served as the official time keeper. Students from San Leandro High School's Octagon Club acted as scorekeepers and helped hand out raffle prizes.

The raffle featured dozens of prizes, including an Apple iPad 2, a pack of Disneyland tickets and various gift certificates donated by local businesses and individuals.

Other participants included:

* a team featuring Mayor Stephen Cassidy and Vice Mayor Michael Gregory;

* "New Guy 1, New Guy 2, Plus 1" comprised of School Board trustees Ron Carey, Lance James and Morgan Mack-Rose;

* and "The Black Katz" headed by School board trustee Mike Katz-Lacabe.

San Leandro city commissioners and employees also fielded teams.

So did the San Leandro Police Officers Association, the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce, the San Leandro Education Foundation, th California Conservatory Theatre and the Rotary Club of San Leandro.

Sponsoring a team cost $350 this year, while audience tickets were $30 at the door and raffle tickets went for $1 each.
Mariscal said a final tally of the amount raised won't be known for a couple weeks, since donations often come in even after the event is over.

Next year's Trivia Bee will take place Oct. 19, 2012.

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