Vows renewed below the Ferris wheel

Bob and Deena Jackson, married 20 years, celebrate the occasion at their workplace: The O.C. Fair.

July 28, 2010|By Tom Ragan,
  • Bob and Deena Jackson, long time food vendors of the Orange County Fair, kiss after renewing their vows in front of family and friends in front of the ferris wheel Wednesday. The couple renewed their vows 20 years to the day that they were married.
Bob and Deena Jackson, long time food vendors of the Orange… (Scott Smeltzer,…)

COSTA MESA — They came full circle in front of the Ferris wheel Wednesday morning, renewing their wedding vows at the virtually empty Orange County Fairgrounds after being married for 20 years.

Normally, Bob and Deena Jackson, who were married on July 28, 1990, in Reno, Nev., are busting their tails selling beer, charbroiled corn and baked potatoes at the fair. But on this morning, the couple assumed the spotlight as an assortment of carnival friends — whom they termed "our real family" — bore witness.

The first exchange of vows was mostly humorous as Deena told Bob before the Rev. Dave Rogers that she was going to take him for "better or for worse" and "for richer or for poorer," especially for poorer, given her shopping habit.

"And I promise to take care of you when you're sick, and to never put you in an old folks home," vowed 47-year-old Deena, who is 16 years younger than her husband. "Oh, and to let you know you're getting it even when you're too old to know you're getting it."


Quipped Bob, when it was his turn to vow: "And I promise to help you with your sickness of shopping and to pick you up at Macy's."

The small crowd laughed, the three bridesmaids beamed, and the 150-foot Ferris wheel, La Grande Wheel, was turned by Tony Fiori of RCS Inc., the carnival operator. The entire wedding party managed to get in a few whirls.

"These two are the nicest people you could ever meet in the world," said Costa Mesa resident Christine Holden, an employee who's been shoveling out the corn and pouring the beer for the couple's business for four years now.

Their story is romantically unusual in that Bob actually met Deena through her mother, Judith, who, at 66, is actually three years older than her now son-in-law. In fact, she worked for Bob as far back as 40 years ago at the Los Angeles County Fair, when Bob's parents, Ernie and Marge, were running the food stands.

Bob and Deena ended up dating 27 years ago, eventually tying the knot after combining much courtship with even more carnival work, rubbing shoulders during the day and going on dates at night.

"We love the Orange County Fair and the people," said Deena, dressed in white for the occasion. "It's seriously been our favorite fair all these years. And we're not just saying that because we're doing this here. The people here are so laid back. It's the only fair left that's got a small-town feel to it."

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