Bringing “OPA” to OC Since 1966
The St. John’s OC Greek Festival has been going on for over 45 years and has rich and diverse history. It hasn’t always been held at St. John’s church and it hasn’t always been called a “Festival” and the themes and prizes have varied, sometimes being influenced by current events.
The first St. John’s Greek Festival was actually an “Annual Picnic.” It took place in 1966 at Union Oil Park in Brea. There was a chicken barbecue, Greek pastries provided by the Ladies Guild, and the raffle prize was a portable television. Throughout most of the early years, the festival was held at the Los Alamitos Race Track except for in 1984, where in celebration of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, the festival was held at Cypress College with the theme being “Hellenic Young Olympics.” Festivities included a 3-mile run with a torch from St. John’s to Cypress College as well as “Super Events” like high jump, long jump, 100-meter dash, and 4-person relays. It wasn’t until the 1980’s, that the festival consistently took place at it’s current location at St. John’s Greek Orthodox Church.
Grand drawing prizes also varied over the years. There have been cars as prizes, including a Pinto, Porsche, Cadillac, Sebring, and lease on a Mercedes. The grand prizes have also included large amounts of cash varying from $3000 to $5000 as well as round trip airfare and accommodations to Greece, Switzerland, Hawaii, and Disney Epcot Center in Florida.
One thing is for certain, regardless of the theme, grand prize, or location, the OC Greek Festival, as it has come to be known, is the premier cultural event in Orange County and provides fun and excitement for the whole family.