This coming weekend would normally have been that of the annual Garden Grove Strawberry Festival. “Would have been” back in the normal years of 2019 and stretching all the way to the late Eisenhower administration.
The coronavirus is what did it, knocking out – for one year, at least – the yearly event that no other national crisis ever did. Not only are the traditions of strawberry shortcake, marching bands and stomach-challenging carnival rides broken, but also cracked are the budgets for the many non-profit organizations that count on the festival to raise money for their good works and activities.
Assuming that the COVID-19 eventually loses momentum – or a fruit-flavored gummy vaccine pill is invented – there may still be time to recover a bit without breaching the historicity of the event that celebrates the community’s roots in agriculture.
Let’s say that time arrives in October or so. Here are some temporary substitute events that still are connected to local legends and realities.
- The Pizza Festival. Who doesn’t like pizza? And what with the “stay-at-home” orders, it’s the golden age of delivery pizza. While a lot of the rest of the work force is idled or worried about becoming idled, places like Domino’s and Pizza Hut are hiring as fast as they can and doing a land office business. Every local Italian food joint is turning and burning the pies as fast as teenage delivery drivers can plop them on your porch. We could even have a pizza parade with floats from Carolina’s, Oggi’s, Augustino’s and Marri’s (outside city limits in Anaheim, but honorary Garden Grovers, as we see it). Horses will be required to wear masks and socially distance.
- A TV game show on Channel 3, called “Who Wants to Be Home Schooled?” Students from local campuses and their mothers pair up to answer questions against a noisy background of ringing phones, barking dogs, yelling siblings and Netflix movies. Winners get to send their kids to a real classroom. Pupils there will be encased in bubble wrap and teachers will shower with Clorox between classes. Recess will consist of rousing sessions of Fortnite and Minecraft.
- Considering the tentative nature of the fall sports campaign, we can organize a “Legends Bowl” at either (or both) Monsoor or Bolsa stadiums. The contest will feature a football game between two teams of over-the-hill former NFL players such as Clay Matthews, Todd Gurley and Andrew Luck. In deference to their advancing years and damaged bodies, there will be a two-minute rest period between downs, and a “tackle” will consist of yelling “I got you! You’re it!” Brett Favre will get his money in advance but not show up.
Every crisis holds an opportunity for the emergence of new ideas. So if these gems catch on, I want to be there to throw out the first meatball.
Jim Tortolano’s “Retorts” column is posted on Wednesdays.