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Balloon Parade Draws Crowd Of About 100,000

Spectators braved chilly and windy conditions today as more than 20 large balloons, mostly of children's cartoon characters, were carried down North Harbor Drive for the Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade.

It was one of several events along San Diego's waterfront leading up to the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl.

About 100,000 spectators lined the route under a cloudless sky to watch what was touted as the largest big balloon parade in the United States. There were 22 balloons -- seven more than the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, organizers said.

Former basketball star and television commentator Bill Walton, a San Diego resident who grew up in La Mesa, served as the grand marshal. Ten marching bands, including those of the universities of Nebraska and Washington, also participated.

The parade was followed by a family festival at the Broadway Pier.

Before the parade, there was a 5K run and a race between eight dachshunds in the Wienerschnitzel "Wiener Nationals."

Kickoff is at 7 p.m. for the football game at Qualcomm Stadium.

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