Just a few minutes before 5:30 a.m. Friday, in 42-degree weather, five residents pull into Estancia High School.
One by one, they park their cars in the lot next to the campus tennis courts. It's still dark outside. Quiet. Most of the people who use nearby Placentia Avenue are still asleep.
Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger gets there first. He's the organizer and creator of the relatively new activity, which they're calling the Costa Mayberry Walking Club.
They like to substitute the "Mesa" with "Mayberry," the fictional 1960s town of "Andy Griffith Show" lore. Mike Bargas, a fellow walker Friday and Estancia's football coach, coined the name during the last election season. It seems to have stuck.
It's permanently imprinted on the club's T-shirts, which Mensinger bought. Andy Griffith is on the back. "Our own little Mayberry" lines the bottom.
They've got punch cards too — a tracker of sorts of those early-morning miles. Walkers can get holes punched in their cards each time they participate.
"Walk your city. Know your city. Walk for health," the card reads.
Mensinger has talked about the club publicly during council meetings. Members regularly meet at 5:30 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and sometimes on the weekends. Councilwoman Sandy Genis and city CEO Tom Hatch have also participated.
It's about seeing the streets of Costa Mesa — all of them, Mensinger says. Exercise is an added bonus for the mayor pro tem, who says he wants to lose a little weight.
"Let's just say we're making good progress," Mensinger says of himself. The longtime youth sports enthusiast wears an Estancia football booster jacket and hat.
Mayor Jim Righeimer pulls into the lot last, wearing a hat and sweater with "Costa Mesa 1953" — the year the city incorporated. It's his third time walking with the club.
But why so early? Why walk before the sun rises?
For one thing, the early time is good for Bargas, who usually gets the walking in before opening his classroom doors at Estancia at about 7:30 a.m.
And Mensinger? "It's good to see the sun go up."
Keeping a steady pace
The five walkers — Mensinger, Righeimer, Bargas, and residents Tim Sweet and Kristen Kirk — head down Placentia toward Joann Street in the Westside.
Mensinger starts his own personal clock on his iPhone. Using the "Walkmeter" app, he'll track the traveling distance, time walked, average speed and calories burned. Afterward, he'll post the results on his Facebook page.
Friday is Kirk's first jaunt with the Mayberry club. The 27-year resident is a fan of the council.
"I've been here a long time and haven't been all that active, City Council-wise," she says while walking down Placentia in a USC sweatshirt. She and Mensinger met when they were both students at Southern Cal.