- Laurel Pfahler Staff Writer
Out-of-state visitors could find Dayton to be gray and dreary this time of year, but there are plenty of interesting tidbits that are sure to impress.
Here are seven facts to use in bragging about Dayton with your guests this holiday season:
1. One of the country’s beloved events started in Dayton
The first soap box derby was held in Dayton in 1933. The race, conceived by Dayton Daily News photographer Myron E. “Scottie” Scott, took place on steep, brick-paved Burkhardt Avenue and a crowd of more than 40,000 people lined the course to watch the racers in their wood contraptions.
2. Dayton holds a sports sellouts record
The Dayton Dragons (Class A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds) hold the record for the most consecutive sold out games of any professional sports team in the nation. In 2011, they surpassed a record held by the Portland Trailblazers of 814 straight sellouts between 1977 and 1995, and the streak remains intact today at 1,247 games.
Fifth Third Field’s seating capacity is 6,830, and the Dragons have averaged 8,388 fans per game over their 18-year history.
3. These things exist because of Daytonians
Many people know this is the “Birthplace of Aviation,” thanks to natives Wilbur and Orville Wright developing and building their first planes here, but several other things were invented in Dayton.
At the turn of the 20th century Dayton had more inventions per capita than any other city in the U.S. Dayton inventions include the cash register, the pop-top can, the stepladder, the ice cube tray and movie theaters (as well as the projectors, cameras and film that make and display the movies).
4. March Madness starts in Dayton
The University of Dayton is home of the First Four round of the NCAA Tournament. UD began hosting the “opening round game” in 2001 when the tournament expanded from 64 to 65 teams and continued to hold the event when it became the “First Four” in 2011 with the tournament field growing to 68 teams.
In more than 40 years of hosting college basketball games and with over 20 million fans having watched a game at UD Arena, the 13,435-seat facility has hosted more NCAA tournament games than any other facility.
5. One of the world’s largest museums is here
The National Museum of the United States Air Force is the world’s largest and oldest military aviation museum and Ohio’s most-visited free tourist attraction, drawing about 1.3 million visitors annually.
The museum has four hangars and 19 acres of enclosed exhibit space featuring more than 360 aerospace vehicles and missiles, including rare one-of-a-kind items such as Presidential aircraft and the B-2 Stealth Bomber.
6. Delicious chocolate and chips are made here
Who doesn’t enjoy chocolate and salty snacks? Esther Price candies and Mikesells potato chips are made in Dayton.
Esther Price began selling chocolates in 1926 and opened her first store on Wayne Avenue in 1952. That famous gold box of chocolates is still made with the same recipes that Price herself perfected over 85 years ago with fresh dairy cream and butter, and many of the company’s chocolates are still made by hand.
Mikesells Snack Food Company started in 1910 when founder Daniel W. Mikesells began selling dried beef and sausage throughout Dayton. Shortly thereafter, he began producing potato chips, but instead of using standard inexpensive vegetable oil, he was committed to preparing his chips in premium oil, giving them a unique taste and texture that has helped keep Mikesells around longer than any other potato chip company in the U.S.
7. The first ticket was written here
Don’t blame your speeding infractions on Dayton, but according to the Dayton Police History Foundation, the world’s first speeding ticket was written here in 1904. The ticket was issued to Harry Myers on West Third Street for traveling 12 mph.
And, for one last thing for someone not convinced, you could tell them about Dayton’s rich history with producing beer: