61st annual Garden Grove Strawberry Festival returns Memorial Day weekend
As sure as it’s Memorial Day weekend, it’s the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival.
The 61st annual event kicks off Friday, May 24, and continues through the Monday holiday. Carnival rides, contests and other entertainment will take place at Village Green Park, 12732 Main St.
Per tradition, a huge strawberry shortcake will be sliced into 2,000 pieces Friday evening at 6. Visitors can enjoy a complimentary bowlful, topped with whipped cream.
Saturday activities begin at 8 a.m. with the Strawberry Stomp 5K run. The 3.1-mile route takes walkers and runners on a tour through downtown Garden Grove.
Two hours later, the beloved parade launches at Chapman Avenue and Ninth Street. The colorful lineup includes floats, bands, equestrians, clowns and characters.
Dawn Wells, who famously played Mary Ann on “Gilligan’s Island,” will serve as celebrity grand marshal.
There will be dozens of rides, including a Ferris wheel, a merry-go-round and a tilt-a-whirl. Entertainment and good-humored contests will take place throughout, in the festival’s amphitheater. Competitions include the Tiny Tots King and Queen, the Berry Berry Beautiful Baby and Strawberry Idol Karaoke.
The Strawberry Festival debuted in 1958. In the years to come, Garden Grove would grow and its strawberry fields shrink. But the festival was here to stay.
In its golden decades – the 1960s and ’70s – the parade attracted such big names as Jayne Mansfield, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Pat Boone, Jimmy Durante, Mel Blanc, Steve Martin, Jane Powell, Meredith MacRae, Debbie Reynolds, Lorne Green and Nancy Sinatra.
Sen. Bobby Kennedy rode in the parade June 4, 1968 – the day before his assassination at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.
More than 200,000 visitors are expected over the four-day festival this year. Proceeds benefit local nonprofits.
Take note of street closures: Main Street, north of Acacia Parkway, will be closed from Thursday, May 23 through Tuesday, May 28 for the festival. On Saturday, from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., sections of Acacia Parkway, Ninth Street, Chapman Avenue and Euclid Street will be shut down for the 5K and parade. Vehicles found on the street after 4 a.m. that day will be towed.
If you go
When: 1-10 p.m. Friday, May 24; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 25 and May 26; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday, May 27
Where: Village Green Park, 12732 Main St., Garden Grove
Admission: Free; unlimited rides are $30 on Friday, $35 Saturday-Monday.