Garden Grove's Sweetest Weekend

SPRING SWEET: If only we could loan out one of our local strawberry festivals to the autumn. But the California Strawberry Festival in Oxnard and the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival have pretty much arrived back-to-back -- or is that stem-to-stem? -- for many years now, so we have to accept the fact that tasty good weekends often arrive in twos. Plus, Oxnard and Garden Grove? Not so close, so everyone can have their must-attend strawberry soiree. And now that the California Strawberry has wrapped -- it got tart over the Saturday, May 19 and Sunday, May 20 weekend -- we can turn our pie-loving eyes upon Garden Grove as it prepares its four-day holiday weekend party. Yep, the 54th outing for this berry blast is set Memorial Day Weekend plus the Friday before, meaning it is on from May 25 through 28.

HAPPY HALLMARKS: When a festival has been around for over half a century a number of hallmarks and traditions naturally develop. One of the biggies at the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival? The parade and its celebrity grand marshals. Mariette Hartley is the 2012 Grand Marshal; she'll be joined by Captain Stacy Gerlich of the LAFD (Captain Gerlich is the Theme Grand Marshal; that theme for this year is "Honoring First Responders"). The parade is on Saturday, May 26 at 10 a.m.

AND, FINALLY, SHORTCAKE: If you have heard about the Orange County party with the ginormous strawberry shortcake, this is the one. It'll be cut on Friday, May 25 at 6 p.m.

OH, AND ONE MORE THING: It is free. We do love free. Yep, the carnival rides and food and such will cost, but getting in? No dough required. That, indeed, is sweet.

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