SAN DIEGO -- More than 100,000 people crowded Harbor Drive in downtown San Diego for Wednesday's Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade.

The parade, which organizers say is the largest balloon parade in the country, began at about 10 a.m.

Marching bands, floats and dozens of giant helium balloons made their way along North Harbor Boulevard from the County Administration Building to near Seaport Village. Among the giant balloons at this year's parade were Betty Boop, Hagar the Horrible, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

The parade is one of several events leading up to the Holiday bowl. Other pre-game activities include:

  • the Amtrak Big Bay Family Festival, with activities and a battle of the bands, at Broadway Pier;
  • the 2011 Wienerschnitzel Wiener Nationals, where eight of the fastest dachshunds from across the West race on a 56-foot track;
  • and the Bumble Bee Foods 5K run.

The opening kickoff for the football game between California and Texas is set for 5:06 p.m. at Qualcomm Stadium. A crowd of about 60,000 is expected at the 66,000-seat stadium. Fans are being encouraged to carpool and arrive at least two hours before the opening kickoff.