With a theme of “Honoring First Responders,” the 54th annual Strawberry Festival comes to Garden Grove’s Village Green park this Memorial Day weekend. Several hundred thousand people are expected to be on hand for the parade and festival.
Mariette Hartley, a veteran actress now starring in the television show “Law And Order: SVU” will be the celebrity grand marshal. Capt. Stacy Gerlich of the Los Angeles Fire Department will be the theme grand marshal. Also honored will be prominent members of the Garden Grove police and fire departments.
The highlight of the festival for many is the parade, which starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday. The parade route starts at Ninth Street and Chapman Avenue. It proceeds west along Chapman, then turns south on Euclid Street, finishing just past the Village Green at Euclid and Main Street.
Wristband Days will be each day this year. Buying the $25 plastic band allows purchasers to ride all the rides all day long on Friday, $30 the rest of the days.
Another signature event of the festival is the cutting of what may be one of the world’s largest strawberry shortcakes on Friday at 6 p.m.
Other highlights will include:
• annual pre-parade breakfast at the Community Meeting Center, 11300 Stanford Ave at 8 a.m. Saturday Open to the public; breakfast is $5;
• a police K-9 and firefighter show in the Festival Amphitheatre from 2-3 p.m.;
• the “Strawberry Idol” karaoke contest Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the amphitheater;
• the “Berry Berry Beautiful Baby Pageant” Sunday at 11 a.m. in the amphitheater;
• the “Red-Head Roundup” in the amphitheater on Monday at noon.
Admission to the festival grounds is free. There will be games, carnival rides, food and craft booths and more. The festival is a primary fund-raising event for many non-profit groups in Garden Grove.
The Strawberry Festival Association, which conducts the event, also raises money and donates it to various civic and charitable causes.
The festival began in the late Fifties, when strawberry growing was a still a major economic activity in Garden Grove. Today, just one field remains, at Euclid and Hazard Street.