big balloons
Big Bay Balloon Parade. Photo courtesy of Port of San Diego

More than 100,000 visitors are expected to line the San Diego bayfront for the 24th annual Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade on Friday.

This year’s parade theme is “Forever Young” and the grand marshal is San Diego’s Meb Keflezighi, the Boston Marathon winner.

The Port is the title sponsor of the parade, which is often referred to as “America’s Largest Balloon Parade” because of the number of giant inflatables. There are 28 this year.

There will also be nine bands, including the USC Trojan and University of Nebraska Cornhusker marching bands. Seven floats and several specialty units will complete the lineup.

The parade is one of the many activities leading up to the 2014 National University Holiday Bowl game between the USC Trojans and the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers at Qualcomm Stadium at 5 p.m. Saturday.

It will run south along Harbor Drive from the County Administration Building to the corner of Harbor Drive and Pacific Highway, near Seaport Village. Segments of Harbor Drive and Pacific Highway will be closed for the parade starting at 12:45 p.m., and the parade itself starts at 3 p.m.

Parade organizers said Waterfront Park at the County Administration Center will be one of the best places to watch it. But event organizers are urging visitors to take public transportation as downtown parking will be at a premium.

The Little Italy trolley stop is located one block east of the Waterfront Park.

No alcohol or smoking (including e-cigarettes) will be allowed in park areas or along the parade route. Glass and barbecues will not be permitted, but persons may bring picnics, lawn chairs, sunscreen, blankets and canopies.

—City News Service