The eager entrants began arriving at the Firefighters Local 1889 trivia night at 6 p.m., one hour before the trivia began. Each of the 54 tables set up in the St. Matthias gymnasium held eight team members. Filled to capacity and with enough food on the tables to feed an army, the contenders visited, snacked and bought tickets for the basket raffles.
Many in the crowd were firefighters, paramedics and their friends and families. Others were die-hard trivia buffs who travel the local trivia circuit on a regular basis.
Eureka firefighter and paramedic Brian Dempsey attended with his wife Stacey and several tables full of friends and relatives. Their table, a tribute to the Blues, was one of the most elaborately decorated in the room. Their spirits were high and everyone was eager for round one to begin.
Contestant Carol Warner attended because she is a trivia night regular. She and a group of about 16 friends attend area trivia nights on a regular basis.
“On any given night it’s no problem at all for us to get eight people together and head for a trivia contest. We have specialists in several categories, sports, movies, history and music, but we don’t try to assemble a team of experts each time. Any of us who can go and make up a team is all right,” Warner said.
When asked if they win a lot, Warner replied, “We do win frequently. Not always, but we win our share. We took second place in a contest last week. We were in first place all night, that is, until the very end of the evening.”
Christina Traber and Melissa Muller were there to support the firefighters, specifically their friend’s sons.
“This was our first trivia night at St. Matthias and it’s a very nice venue. The turn-out tonight is great,” Traber said.
The well-attended event, planned by Local 1889 member and paramedic Heather Wehrman had all the earmarks of success. She managed the registration table and checked team assignments and the tables filled-up one by one until the job was complete. At 7 p.m., the attention shifted to the main stage where trivia moderator and firefighter Chris Francis got the game going. A hush came over the large crowd as Francis read the opening instructions. Game on.
Doug Weck, Treasurer of Local 1889, explained the distribution of the ticket proceeds. He said that the Backstoppers would receive about half of the proceeds from the night. Backstoppers Inc. is a charity that provides support and financial assistance to the families of local police officers, firefighters and paramedics who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
"The rest will all go to other charities like, Nurses for Newborns, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Lemay Meals on Wheels and others. We save some in our activities account to help families who have home fires at Christmas and need quick help with gifts for kids. We also donate to the three district high schools to help pay for their after-prom parties. All of the proceeds go to charity,” he said.
The competition was fierce, but the event and the resulting funds raised for charity made it a contest in which all of the participants were winners.