Gilroy Gardens celebrating 20th anniversary, says goodbye to longtime GM

At last, Gilroy Gardens is going to throw the party it had planned in 2020.

The lush horticultural theme park will kick off its 20th birthday celebration on June 26, three days after its water park, Water Oasis, opens for the season.

A colorful clubhouse stage has been constructed near the park’s entrance, featuring daily live shows, where guests will learn the “Birthday Rap.” Patios throughout the park, ideal for a cupcake break, will have different themes, such as Tea Party or Pirates.

A birthday clubhouse has been constructed near Gilroy Gardens’ entrance. | Photo: Erik Chalhoub

Memory spots will be posted throughout the gardens, featuring historical photos from the park’s 20-year history. Park-goers are invited to share their own photos, which may be put on display somewhere in the park.

Guests can also sign a giant birthday card, as well as take part in other activities.

But there is someone missing from all the festivities.

Hoa Minh Le has succeeded Barb Granter as Gilroy Gardens’ vice president and general manager. The two pose for a photo on Quicksilver Express. | Photo: Erik Chalhoub

Barb Granter, Gilroy Gardens’ vice president and general manager for 19 years, left the park to take the helm of California’s Great America on June 1.

Hoa Minh Le, who has been at Gilroy Gardens since 2003, most recently serving as vice president of marketing and assistant general manager, has taken over Granter’s position.

“It is a bittersweet moment to leave my Gilroy Gardens family, but I know everyone is in excellent hands with Hoa leading the way,” Granter said.

Le, a native of San Jose, began his career as a food service associate at Great America in 1993, and was promoted to full-time manager of food and beverage in 1996. In 2003, he accepted the resale manager position at Gilroy Gardens. In 2007, he was promoted to director of marketing and sales for the park, and in 2012 became vice president of marketing and assistant general manager.

No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you: Gilroy Gardens is much more lush this season. That’s because the foliage was left alone for the year the park was closed. | Photo: Erik Chalhoub

Photo: Erik Chalhoub

“I am thrilled to take on this new role and continue to lead one of the most dedicated teams in the industry,” Le said. “Michael Bonfante built a very special place for kids, and we have been delivering his dream for nearly two decades. My hope is that 20 years from now, this will still be a place where kids, nature, imagination and families all grow together. I am grateful to Barb for her mentorship over the past 14 years.”

Gilroy Gardens’ water feature, the recently expanded Water Oasis, opens for the season on June 23.

For information on the 20th anniversary and a park schedule, visit

Socially distant queuing at Gilroy Gardens. | Photo: Erik Chalhoub

About Erik Chalhoub

Erik Chalhoub is the Magazine Editor at New SV Media in Gilroy (and a roller coaster fanatic!). He is also the proud recipient of the 2016 ACE NorCal Richard Tuck Spirit Award.

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