Celebration of life for Hodad's owner Mike Hardin - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Celebration of life for Hodad's owner Mike Hardin

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Friends and family gathered at Petco Park Saturday to pay tribute to the late owner of Hodad's, Mike Hardin.

Wearing Hodad's shirts, hundreds turned out for the celebration of life at Petco Park's "Park In The Park."

Hardin, who was known as the unofficial Mayor of Ocean Beach, died last month of a heart attack.

And while Saturday was a tribute to Mike, it was also a celebration of his life. There were tears, but mostly smiles and laughter. It's said this is what Mike would've wanted.

Celebrity chef Guy Fieri said the moment he met Mike eight years ago, he knew he'd met someone special:

“The experience I had with Mike that day made me feel like I had a new best friend. I think that's how we all feel.”

Mikes former wife says he was the kind of dad who loved being a dad:

“I'm not exaggerating, Mike lived for his time with Shane and Lexie. He changed more diapers than me, told them stories on end comforting them when they were tired or afraid.”

And now his spirit lives on in his kids. From the tears Saturday to the hugs, the message his son hopes resonates:

“Stop being shy about telling each other you love each other. It might go too soon. You might not able to tell them. Fortunately enough, my dad and I were able to tell each other how much we really loved each other. So really, just say it, just say it.”

Hardin was active in the community, giving generously to a number of causes and also a strong supporter of our troops.

Fieri said Hardin once told him: "If I die, I want to come back as myself, because I've had the greatest live ever."

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