Some 30 giant inflatables towered over tens of thousands of visitors Friday who attended the 24th annual Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade along the downtown waterfront.

Meb Keflezighi, the San Diegan who won this year’s Boston Marathon and ran for USC rival UCLA, was grand marshal of the parade themed “Forever Young.” His motorized float broke down, and had to be pushed down the route.

The 90-minute parade was a prelude to Saturday’s 2014 National University Holiday Bowl game between the USC Trojans and the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers at Qualcomm Stadium. Game time is 5 p.m.

Sponsored by the Port of San Diego, the event was billed as “America’s Largest Balloon Parade” because of the number of giant inflatables.

The parade included nine bands, including the Trojan and Cornhusker marching bands, seven floats and several specialty units.

The parade ran 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 were closed for the parade starting at 12:45 p.m., and were reopened following its conclusion.

Many parade-goers watched the festivities from Waterfront Park at the County Administration Center, one of the best places to glimpse the procession of balloons.

— City News Service

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