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Large Crowds Expected At Balloon Parade, Holiday Bowl

The 34th annual Holiday Bowl will be played today, preceded by the annual Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade and a variety of other downtown events.

The morning schedule includes:

-- the Amtrak Big Bay Family Festival, with activities and a battle of the bands, at Broadway Pier;

-- the 2011 Wienerschnitzel Wiener Nationals, where eight of the fastest dachshunds from across the West race on a 56-foot track;

-- the Bumble Bee Foods 5K run; and

-- the parade, with enormous character balloons, marching bands and floats.

Metropolitan Transit System officials suggest boarding trolleys bound for downtown by 9 a.m. to get to the parade in time.

The opening kickoff for the football game between California and Texas is set for 5:06 p.m. at Qualcomm Stadium. A crowd of about 60,000 is expected at the 66,000-seat stadium. Fans are being encouraged to carpool and arrive at least two hours before the opening kickoff.

Bowl officials expect the stadium's 14,000-vehicle parking lot to be filled one to two hours before the game. The parking lot will open at 8 a.m.

Alternate parking sites include San Diego State University, the Mission City Corporate Center, the Marriott Mission Valley hotel and the Town and County Hotel.

Fans are also being asked to consider taking the San Diego Trolley to the game.

Special enhanced Green Line service will begin at 8:10 a.m. from Old Town, operating between the Convention Center area and Santee and through Old Town, Mission Valley and Qualcomm Stadium. Trains will depart every 15 minutes until at least one hour after the game.

Blue Line trains will continue past their terminus at Old Town beginning at 11:25 a.m. and operate through to Qualcomm Stadium, providing service from South Bay communities, along with downtown hotels. Blue Line trains will depart every 15 minutes from the South Bay and downtown.

Fans going to the game are urged to board trolleys headed for the stadium before 2 p.m.

The Holiday Bowl sold out each year from 2003-2007 but since then has only sold out in 2009.

The drop in ticket sales results from the Holiday Bowl now getting lower selections of Pacific-12 and Big 12 conference teams and the long-running economic doldrums, according to Bruce Binkowski, the game's executive director.

"Match-up is critical, but so is the availability of money for people to spend,'' Binkowski said.

Each school received about 11,000 tickets to sell. California fans bought up nearly all of theirs, but Texas backers only purchased around half, he said. The rest will be donated to the Marine Corps, Navy, YMCA and Star/PAL, Binkowski said.

Both teams are 7-5. The Bears won three of their last four games while the Longhorns lost three of their last four.

The teams have one common opponent, UCLA. Texas defeated the Bruins, 49-20, while California lost to UCLA, 31-14.

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