By Brittany Hanson
Garden Grove Journal
Mike Fenderson, 71, of Laguna Beach is very excited about including his twin granddaughters in the Strawberry Festival Parade. The pair will be riding with him down the route of the parade, getting a chance to wave at the watchers.
Fenderson has a long memory when it comes to the Festival and a long history of involvement in the city.
This year’s Strawberry Festival president has worn many hats around the city of Garden Grove for a grand total of 34 years.
“When I was working for the city of Garden Grove, I was the city’s liaison to the festival. I did that for 15 years or so, when I left he city in 1996, I went on the Strawberry Festival board as a member for another close to 15 years,” said Fenderson.
Fenderson has been the parks and recreation director, the city manager, the recreation supervisor, the human services director and the city treasurer. Fenderson spent a long time working in Garden Grove, something that he found after retiring he wanted to continue. Enter the Strawberry Festival Board.
As a member of the board, Fenderson said he was able to maintain the relationships with the people and the community he had grown to love.
Fenderson remembers when his daughter, Michelle, was young and he had first started working with the city, they used to park in a special parking spot and he would sit on the hood of the car with her and watch the parade.
Although he doesn’t have the parking spot anymore, Fenderson feels that trading up to a car in the parade is fair enough to make the experience special with his granddaughters.
“I think they’ll really like it,” said Fenderson.
One of his normal duties as a part of the festival board is to oversee the cutting and distribution of the massive strawberry shortcake that is native to the festival.
“One year, I’m up there with the cake and there is this huge line waiting for a piece,” said Fenderson, “And I look down this line and there is my dad, waiting for a piece of this cake. I couldn’t believe that he was there!”
When Mike isn’t working on the festival board, he said he can be found either on the beach or in the mountains, depending on what season it is.
“I live at the beach and I love skiing. For about two months in the winter, I stay up at Mammoth Mountain and am a ski host,” said Fenderson, “I’m also a docent at Crystal Cove [in Laguna Beach].”
Crystal Cove is actually where Fenderson met his wife, Carol.
He was a lifeguard there in the 1950’s when he met Carol, and for a while there, they were high school sweethearts.
But then Carol broke up with him and for many years, they went their separate ways. At a reunion for Crystal Cove in the 1980’s, they re-met and found that love was still in the air. They’ve been married since 1982.
First and foremost though, right now, for Mike is getting the Strawberry Festival into full swing.
“I love seeing all the people get together and just have a good time. People enjoying themselves. This is good, small-town fun that you just don’t see very often anymore.”