Garden Grove

Following up on GG’s Festival

THE CARNIVAL rides at the 2022 Garden Grove Strawberry Festival were popular (Orange County Tribune photo by Jim Tortolano).

The long awaited 62nd Annual Garden Grove Strawberry Festival, “Celebrating Essential Workers,” made its return May 27 – 30, 2022, after a two-year hiatus due to the worldwide health pandemic.  Hundreds of thousands of people flooded the Festival grounds both day and night to celebrate the Memorial Day Weekend and the long-awaited return of Garden Grove’s beloved Festival.

Just prior to the Opening of the Festival on May 27, a private event was held on Thursday, May 26, Special Kid’s Day, overseen by Festival Director, Dr. Dawn Miller, at which 2,000 special needs children were bussed into the Festival grounds to enjoy rides and lunch, courtesy of the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival Association and generous vendors who donated food, drinks and special gifts for the children.  Wiley Wolf from Great Wolf Lodge, the Strawberry Festival’s Mascot and an assortment of costumed superheroes, courtesy of the OC Autism Foundation, made special appearances, to the delight of the children.

Then Friday afternoon, May 27, the 2022 Tiny Tots King and Queen, Connor H. and Maggie W., were crowned.  Heidi Levesque, the Strawberry Festival Director of Contests, has announced the winners of the Festival’s other 2022 Contests are as follows:

Berry, Berry, Beautiful Baby Contest Winners:
3 months to 1 year old:
– Best Smile:  Penelope R.
– Best Hair:  Celine S.
– Best Eyes and Overall Winner:  Journi S.

2 – 3 years old:
– Best Smile:  Aleah R.
– Best Eyes and Overall Winner:  Liam G.

Redhead Roundup Contest Winners:
– Baby Redhead:  Hayden P.
– Toddler Redhead:  Natalie P.
– Cutest Redhead:  Mia R.
– Teen Redhead:  Jazzlyn C.
– Prettiest Redhead:  Mikayla P.
– Classy Redhead:  Heather D.
– Redhead With Most Freckles:  Croz T.
– Strawberry Blond:  Jackson S.

Brick Build Contest Winners:
5-7 years old:
– Best Representation of Theme:  Abigail C.
– Most Creative:  Susan F.

8-11 years old:
Best Representation of Theme and Most Creative:  Savvy S.

12-14 years old:
– Best Representation of Theme and Most Creative:  Aaron T.

The 62nd Annual Garden Grove Strawberry Festival officially kicked-off on Friday night, May 27th as French Stewart (“Third Rock From The Sun,” “Inspector Gadget 2”) hosted the official Strawberry Shortcake Cutting Ceremony, organized by Festival Director Laura Neuschafer, at which 2,500 pieces of a 70 foot long Strawberry Shortcake created by French’s Bakery of Costa Mesa, were served FREE to the general public in attendance.  Others in attendance 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 Parade Celebrities.

On Saturday morning, May 28, following a VIP Pancake Breakfast, also hosted by French Stewart, and organized by Festival Director Sue Catlin, the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival Association hosted a Parade, organized by David Sarell of Pageantry Parades on the theme of “Celebrating Essential Workers.”  Kathy Garver (“Family Affair”) served as Parade Celebrity Grand Marshal, and Tom DaRé(Police Chief of the City of Garden Grove) served at Parade Theme Grand Marshal. This year’s Parade and Festival was presented in loving memory of the late and beloved Lieutenant John Reynolds of the Garden Grove Police Department.  The Parade included Bands, Equestrians, Novelties and Vintage Jaguar Cars.

Celebrity Parade Participants included:  Neile Adams McQueen, Madison Neile McQueen, Chase McQueen, French Stewart, Vanessa Claire Stewart, Evan Lê, Pyper Braun, Rosalyn Bryant Clark, Breanna Clark, Scott Travis, Michael David, Cathi Parrish, Topanga Scherf, Raena Ramirez and the Strawberry Festival Mascot.

Essential Workers and Community Heroes honored in the Parade included:  Lieutenant Brian Dalton of Garden Grove Police Department; Deputy Chief Amir El-Farra of the Garden Grove Police Department; Tricia Chinn of Garden Grove Unified School District; David Moreno-Guardado of Garden Grove Unified School District; Captain Christian Caswell of the Orange County Fire Authority; Efrain Flores of RJ Allen, Inc., Rafael Robles of the City of Garden Grove; Victoria Casillas of the City of Garden Grove; Carlene Weaver of Republic Services; Maria Nena Forrester of Boy’s and Girl’s Club of Garden Grove; Leeann Dotson of Ralph’s; Jim Nguyen of Healthy Aging Center Acacia; James Webb of Falck Ambulance; Corey Bear Harkless of Costco; Sharon L. Torres of Office Depot; and Linda Morin, City of Garden Grove Emergency Operations Coordinator.

Elected Officials who rode the Parade included:  Steve Jones, Mayor of Garden Grove; Diedre Thu-Ha Nguyen, Mayor Pro-Tem of Garden Grove; Supervisor Andrew Do, Orange County Board of Supervisors; Senator Tom Umberg, District 34; Assemblyman Tom Daly, 69th District, Assemblywoman 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; Stephanie Klopfenstein, Garden Grove City Council and Scott Stiles, City of Garden Grove Manager.

Eight 2022 Graduating Seniors who rode 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 was awarded a $1,000 check and plaque from the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival Association to further their education at universities and colleges of their choice.

This year’s Festival featured 153 vendor and food booths, including 12 Civic Non-Profit Game Booths, which were fundraising 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 Amphitheater, 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 Club of Garden Grove, Olde Lemonade Tyme, Miniondas and Costco of Garden Grove.

The Garden Grove Strawberry Festival is an annual 501(c)(3) non-profit FREE admission event produced by the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival Association, a dedicated volunteer group, which has raised more than $7 million for various charities since its inception in 1958.  The live Festival wasn’t held in 2020 and 2021, due to the pandemic.  The Festival’s mission and goal is to give back to the community serving Garden Grove citizens by donating to non-profit organizations which provide services for children, seniors, youth, the community, and which support the arts.  To learn more and for updates on this year’s Festival, please visit,

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