The long-awaited 62nd Annual Garden Grove Strawberry Festival, “Celebrating Essential Workers,” made its triumphant return May 27-30, 2022, after a two-year hiatus due to the global health pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of people flooded the festival grounds day and night to celebrate Memorial Day weekend and the long-awaited return of the beloved Garden Grove festival.
Just before the festival opened on May 27, a joyful private event took place on Thursday May 26, the special children’s day, overseen by festival director Dr Dawn Miller, during which 2,000 children with special needs were transported by bus to the festival grounds. to enjoy rides and lunch, courtesy of the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival Association and generous vendors who donated food, drink and special gifts for the children. Wiley Wolf of Great Wolf Lodge, the Strawberry Festival mascot and an assortment of costumed superheroes, courtesy of the OC Autism Foundation, made special appearances, much to the delight of children.
Then on Friday afternoon, May 27, the 2022 Tiny Tots King and Queen, Connor H. and Maggie W., were crowned. Heidi Levesque, Strawberry Festival Competitions Director, announced the winners of the Festival’s other 2022 competitions:
Berry, Berry, Beautiful Baby contest winners:
3 months to 1 year:
– Best smile
– Best Smile: Penelope R.
– Best hairstyle: Céline S.
– Best eyes and big winner: Journi S.
– Best smile: Aleah R.
– Best eyes and big winner: Liam G.
Redhead Roundup Contest Winners:
– Redhead Baby: Hayden P.
– Redhead Toddler: Natalie P.
– The cutest redhead: Mia R.
– Redhead teen: Jazzlyn C.
– The prettiest redhead: Mikayla P.
– Classy redhead: Heather D.
– Redhead with the most freckles: Croz T.
– Strawberry blonde: Jackson S.
Brick Building Contest Winners:
– Best Theme Representation: Abigail C.
– The most creative: Susan F.
8-11 years old:
Better representation of the theme and more creative: Savvy S.
12-14 years old:
– Better representation of the theme and more creative: Aaron T.
The 62nd Annual Garden Grove Strawberry Festival officially kicked off on Friday evening May 27 as French Stuart (“Third Rock From The Sun”, “Inspector Gadget 2”) hosted the official strawberry shortcake cutting ceremony, hosted by festival director Laura Neuschafer, in which 2,500 pieces of a strawberry shortcake from 70 feet long created by French’s Bakery of Costa Mesa, CA, was served FREE to the general public in attendance. Other attendees who posed for photos and did interviews in front of a Step and Repeat banner at the event included: Kathy Garver, Parade Celebrity Grand Marshal, Tom DaRé, Parade Theme Grand Marshal, Pat Catlin, President of the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival Association. Topanga Scherf, Miss Garden Grove 2022 and other celebrities from the parade.
On Saturday morning May 28, after a VIP pancake breakfast, also hosted by French Stuartand hosted by festival director Sue Catlin, the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival Association held a parade, hosted by David Sarell of Pageantry Parades with the theme “Celebrating Essential Workers”. Kathy Garver (“Family Affair”) served as the Parade Celebrity Grand Marshal, and Tom DaRé (Garden Grove City Police Chief) served as the Parade Theme Grand Marshal. This year’s parade and festival was held in loving memory of the late and beloved Lt. John Reynolds of the Garden Grove Police Department. The parade included bands, riders, new releases and vintage Jaguar cars.
Participants in the celebrity parade included: neile adams McQueen, Madison Neile McQueen, Chase McQueen, French Stuart, Vanessa Claire StewartEvan Le, Pyper Braun, Rosalyn Bryant Clark, Breanna Clark, Scott Travis, Michael DavidCathi Parrish, Topanga Scherf, Raena Ramirez and the Strawberry Festival mascot.
Essential workers and community heroes honored in the parade included: Garden Grove Police Department Lt. Brian Dalton; Deputy Chief Amir El-Farra of the Garden Grove Police Department; Tricia Chinn of the Garden Grove Unified School District; David Moreno-Guardado of the Garden Grove Unified School District; Captain Christian Caswell of the Orange County Fire Authority; Efrain Flores of RJ Allen, Inc., Rafael Robles of City of Garden Grove; Victoria Casillas of the City of Garden Grove; Carlene Weaver of Republic Services; Maria Nena Forrester of the Garden Grove Boys and Girls Club; Ralph’s Leeann Dotson; Jim Nguyen of the Acacia Center for Healthy Aging; James Webb of Falck Ambulance; Costco’s Corey Bear Harkless; Sharon L. Torres of Office Depot; and Linda Morin, City of Garden Grove Emergency Operations Coordinator.
Elected officials who participated in the parade included: Steve Jones, Mayor of Garden Grove; Diedre Thu-Ha Nguyen, Pro-Tem Mayor of Garden Grove; Supervisor Andrew Do, Orange County Board of Supervisors; Senator Tom Umberg, District 34; Deputy Tom Daly, 69th District, Congresswoman Janet Nguyen, 72nd District; Congressman Lou Correa, 46 Congressional District; Congresswoman Michelle Steel, 48th District; Supervisor Katrina Foley, District 2, Orange County Board of Supervisors, George S. Brietigam III, Garden Grove City Council; John R. O’Neill, Garden Grove City Council; Kim Nguyen, Garden Grove City Council; Patrick Phat Bui, Garden Grove City Council; Garden Grove City Council Stephanie Klopfenstein and Garden Grove City Manager Scott Stiles.
Eight 2022 graduating seniors who participated in the parade representing eight different high schools in the Garden Grove Unified School District included: Jamie Pham, Bolsa Grande High School; Truc Pho, Garden, Garden Grove High School; Lizette Sevilla, Marie L. Hare High School; Alejandro Gomez, La Quinta High School; Jennifer Ngoe Le, Los Amigos High School; Di Nguyen, Pacifica High School; Holly Tran, Rancho Alamitos High School and Jenny Ngo, Santiago High School. Each student received a check for $1,000 and a plaque from the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival Association to continue their studies at universities and colleges of their choice.
This year’s festival featured 153 vendor and food booths, including 12 non-profit civic game booths, which raised funds for various charities, six carnival game booths, 33 carnival rides, five bands , a DJ and a dance company.
The 40 sponsors of this year’s 62nd Annual Garden Grove Strawberry Festival included: Petersen Automotive Museum, Jaguar Owner’s Club, Clear Channel Outdoor, Garden Amphitheatre, OutFront, Republic Services, Great Wolf Lodges, K-WAVE 107.9 FM, Orange County News, Event- News Enterprise, Sun Newspapers, Orange County’s Credit Union, Air 1, Residence Inn Anaheim Resort Area Garden Grove, Los Angeles Times, Pacific Coachways, Sheraton Park Hotel at the Anaheim Resort, The Orange County Register, Savor Stone Hearth Pizza & Wine, Widdicombe Enterprises Inc./McDonald’s, The Country Register, Healthy Aging Center Acacia, School News Roll Call, Delta Hotels Marriott Anaheim/Garden Grove, HomeLight, Garden Grove Chamber of Commerce, Little Saigon Television, The City of Garden Grove , Garden Grove TV3, Boys & Girls Clubs of Garden Grove, The Orange County Tribune, La Casa García, Butler Amusements, Inc., Vice Markus Concessions – Hemet, CA, Fruit Caboose, StrackGround, Kiwanis Clu b of Garden Grove, Olde Lemonade Tyme, Miniondas and Costco of Garden Grove.
The Garden Grove Strawberry Festival is an annual FREE admission 501(c)(3) non-profit event produced by the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival Association, a group of dedicated volunteers, which has raised over $7 million for various charities since its inception in 1958. The Live Festival did not take place in 2020 and 2021, due to the pandemic. The mission and purpose of the Festival is to give back to the community serving the citizens of Garden Grove by donating to non-profit organizations that provide services to children, seniors, youth, community and who support the arts. To learn more and for updates on this year’s Festival, please visit, www.strawberryfestival.org