Windy conditions on Harbor Drive challenged balloon rope hands at the Holiday Bowl Parade. Photo by Chris Stone

By San Diego standards, Monday’s weather for the Holiday Bowl Parade wasn’t ideal — a windy 60 degrees with light spritzes of rain. Balloon-wranglers struggled with face-down inflatables.

But for visitors from Salt Lake City and Evanston, Illinois — home of the competing Utah and Northwestern football teams — it was far comfier than being home.

At parade time, it was raining and in the high 30s in the Chicago suburb. And in Utah? Windy in the mid-20s (but feels like 19 degrees).

The Port of San Diego Holiday Bowl Parade — calling itself America’s Largest Balloon Parade — began at the County Administration Center and went south along the North Harbor Drive.

Before the parade, the Port of San Diego hosted the 25th annual Solar Turbines 5K run/walk.

According to Port officials, the parade boasted 29 giant balloons, 10 marching bands and multiple floats and drill teams. Marching bands from Northwestern University and the University of Utah performed.

Utes fans far outnumbered Wildcats faithful, judging from bundled-up crowds wearing team colors.

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“The Port of San Diego Holiday Bowl Parade is one of the Port’s signature events, bringing approximately 100,000 spectators, including many from out of state, to the beautiful San Diego bayfront,” said Board of Port Commissioners Chairman Rafael Castellanos. “It’s a wonderful way to activate the waterfront and to add an economic boost to the region.”

County Supervisor Ron Roberts served as the parade’s grand marshal. Holiday Bowl organizers named Roberts the game’s honorary chairman Nov. 26.

“I’m flattered to be the honorary chairman of the 2018 SDCCU Holiday Bowl,” Roberts said. “Over the years this game has always been one of the best during bowl season and I’m sure this year will be fantastic. I can’t wait to be part of the many bowl activities.”

Other politicos waving at spectators were Assemblyman Todd Gloria and San Diego City Council members Mark Kersey (a Northwestern alumnus) and Monica Montgomery. Mayor Kevin Faulconer was absent.

The parade aired live nationally on Fox College Sports and also on Fox Sports San Diego, Fox Sports Prime Ticket in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Hawaii and Fox Sports Southeast in Florida.

— City News Service contributed to this report

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