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It’s now or never: Yorba Linda seniors will tie the knot at the 20th annual Elvis Festival

Elvis fans Sylvia Ronquillo, 67, and Jesse Nava, 68, are getting married at the 10th annual Elvis Festival on August 25 in Garden Grove.
Elvis fans Sylvia Ronquillo, 67, and Jesse Nava, 68, are getting married at the 10th annual Elvis Festival on August 25 in Garden Grove.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Whenever Sylvia Ronquillo and Jesse Nava tell people they are getting married, the response is the same: “I thought you two were already married!”

And who wouldn’t think that?

The couple show up everywhere together. All Shook Up fan club meetings. Jailhouse Rockers fan club meetings. Blue Suede Shoes fan club meetings. Elvis night at the Azteca lounge in Garden Grove. Elvis lounge acts in Vegas and Laughlin.


If there’s one person Ghassan Haddad credits with putting him on his path to citizenship it’s Elvis Presley.

But nope. This whole 10 years, it turns out, they weren’t married: just two inseparable Elvis Presley fans in love.

But earlier this summer, Ronquillo, 67, told Nava, 68, that she wasn’t going to wait around forever.

And there’s a ring at Sam’s Club. And it’s on sale. Also, the sale ends soon.


So Nava headed to Sam’s Club one day in July and, back at home, after finishing up some yard work, got down on one knee in front of Ronquillo and popped the question.

The mobile home of Sylvia Ronquillo and Jesse Nava is full of Elvis memorabilia.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)


“He was all grubby and had his yard clothes on,” says Ronquillo. “So I said, [and here she sighs] ‘Well, I guess.’ ”

Being a quick study, Nava gave it another shot on another day, this time looking proper.

And she said yes, emphatically.

They are exchanging vows Aug. 25 at the 20th annual Elvis Festival on historic Main Street in Garden Grove.

Elvis impersonator Sean Martin will escort the bride down the aisle. Elvis impersonator Martin Anthony will serenade them with the Hawaiian wedding song from “Blue Hawaii.”


Belly dancer Tanya Lemani, who appeared alongside the King in “the Elvis ’68 Comeback Special” (and is now 74 years old), will be their witness. And Elvis impersonator Kirk Wall will “officiate.”

They haven’t yet picked out what song they will have for their first dance, but “The Wonder of You” is the one they like to dance to when they’re home alone.

And their mobile home deserves some mentioning. Every room, and that goes for the loo, is a shrine to the King.

Elvis memorabilia is in every room of Sylvia Ronquillo and Jesse Nava’s home.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Ronquillo, wearing a sparkly “Got Elvis?” T-shirt she made herself, recently showed off the tastefully-arranged explosion of King-themed liquor decanters, music boxes, lamp shades, light switch covers, clocks and snow globes. Elvis appears on a bedspread, the shower curtain and luggage (from a trip to Graceland).

On the walls are vintage Elvis posters and framed Elvis 45s. A groovy beaded curtain of Elvis’ face hangs in the entrance to the kitchen. There is a mini jukebox stocked with 100 Elvis songs on the kitchen counter right next to an Elvis hot sauce. An Elvis wine bottle collection is on display in the living room.

“And we don’t even drink,” says Ronquillo.

There is also a full-sized jukebox in the living room. Nava saw it at a yard sale. He asked if it worked. The seller plugged it in, and “Heartbreak Hotel” came blasting out. Nava went home and got a pick-up truck.


The funny thing is, while Ronquillo has considered Elvis “drop-dead gorgeous” since she was a teen, Nava didn’t initially fall under the King’s spell.

Back in 1999, a friend invited him to see “Viva Las Vegas” on the big screen.

A pair of blue suede shoes sit below an Elvis lamp in Sylvia Ronquillo and Jesse Nava’s home.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

“I said, ‘Who the hell is Elvis?’ ” he recalls. “I grew up on Motown, rock ‘n’ roll, low riders and Westerns.”

He still unwinds at the end of most days by watching “Bonanza” and “The Lone Ranger” on TV.

So he declined the invitation, “because I didn’t know the man.”

Six months later, the same friend asked him to go with her to a weekend Elvis convention at Hollywood Park. This time he gave in.

“By Monday, all I had in my head [were] Elvis songs,” he says.

Nava joined the Jailhouse Rockers, a fan club based in Southern California. The Rockers were watching an Elvis tribute lounge show at the Riviera Hotel in Vegas.

And that’s where he met Ronquillo.

They became fast friends, bonding over Elvis, and eventually love bloomed.

Asked what it is about the King that gets them all shook up, they talk about how he was the salt-of-the-earth and generous — a gentleman.

“All of it,” Nava says.

Of course the main thing is the music, which is why they are excited to celebrate their marriage at the festival. In addition to eight Elvis impersonators, 11 vocalists (ages 6 to 70) will be performing Elvis songs.

“Elvis is the glue,” Ronquillo says.

Other Elvis Festival highlights include a King of Cadillacs Car Show and Hound Dog Motorcycle Ride; a stilt-walking Elvis and Priscilla; Elvis Bingo and Elvis menu items, including Elvis-themed ice cream flavors. For more information, go to the 20th annual Elvis Festival page on Facebook.

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