The Garfield balloon on a windy day at the 2018 Holiday Bowl Parade. Photo by Chris Stone

Two free events precede Tuesday’s Holiday Bowl – the Battle of the Bands Monday evening, followed by the Holiday Bowl Parade along Harbor Drive on Tuesday morning.

Each will put prime San Diego scenic and tourist areas in the spotlight – the Gaslamp Quarter and the stretch between Waterfront Park and Seaport Village – while celebrating Tuesday’s game, to be played at Petco Park for the first time.

But the community can take part without purchasing a ticket, beginning late Monday:

  • The UCLA and North Carolina State bands – representing the game’s participants – will duke it out for music supremacy at 5 p.m. Monday at Fifth Avenue and Market Street, ahead of an ’80s concert on two stages. The band battle, though, is free and open to the community.
  • Billed as “America’s Largest Balloon Parade,” the Holiday Bowl Parade begins at 10 a.m. Tuesday, heading out from Harbor Drive, just south of Grape Street, and proceeding south to the curve at Pacific Highway. San Diego Padre Joe Musgrove, an El Cajon native, will serve as the Grand Marshal.

Some key facts to know about the parade: Harbor Drive from Grape Street to Pacific Highway will be closed from 7 a.m. until the parade ends at about noon. Residents and businesses will have limited access until 8 a.m.

As parking will be in very short supply, organizers strongly suggest that parade-goers opt for the San Diego Trolley. Both the Green and Blue Lines stop at the Santa Fe Depot, three blocks east of Harbor Drive. The Orange Line also connects to the Green Line at 12th and Imperial.

See the MTS web site for Holiday Bowl Parade service and routes.

But for those who prefer seating, grandstand spots in front of the Maritime Museum are available for $25 on Tuesday. Tickets will be sold in the blue and white tent south of the grandstands. The parade will air on Bally Sports San Diego.

The game starts at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Petco Park.

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