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KPBS Evening Edition

Thousands Brave Cold Weather For Holiday Bowl Parade

USC Song Girls on a float at the 2019 Holiday Bowl Parade in downtown San Diego on Dec. 26, 2019.
Max Rivlin-Nadler
USC Song Girls on a float at the 2019 Holiday Bowl Parade in downtown San Diego on Dec. 26, 2019.

The annual Holiday Bowl Parade, a San Diego tradition, drew tens of thousands to the waterfront Thursday, even in cold weather.

Despite the weather in the 50s and 60s, thousands of college football fans still made out to the annual parade ahead of Friday's Holiday Bowl game between No. 22 USC and No. 19 Iowa.

The festivities began with a 5K — a good way to warm up — and then with the Hawkeye Marching Band and Spirit of Troy Trojan March Band pumping up the crowd. There were also more than 30 giant balloons, whose handlers deftly maneuvered in the wind.

The Holiday Bowl Parade is the largest balloon parade in the nation, according to the Port of San Diego, who sponsored the parade.

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In the grandstand were Lena Alcido and her husband, Sean Mueller and their two children from Oakland. They represent a house divided. Alcido is a USC fan while her husband is an Iowa fan. Alcido knew there might be a conflict when the two teams were invited to the Holiday Bowl.

"I thought, 'Uh-oh," she said. "This is the first time since my husband and I have met that they have played together in football. He's a huge fan and I'm a huge fan, but we know who's gonna win."

The two said they've managed to keep it civil for the most part, but Mueller said there may be conflict at home "when we (Iowa) kick their butts tomorrow."

This is the first meeting between the Trojans and Hawkeye since the 2003 Orange Bowl. USC won that game.

The Hawkeyes will be playing in memory of their former coach, Hayden Fry, who died last Tuesday at the age of 90. Fry coached at Iowa for 20 years and took the Hawkeyes to the Holiday Bowl three times.

For USC, it's the first game since new athletic director Mike Bohn announced that coach Clay Helton will return next season — a move unpopular with fans.

The Metropolitan Transit System also announced Thursday it will boost Trolley service to the stadium to accommodate the expected large crowds.

Kickoff is at 5 p.m. Friday at SDCCU Stadium.