Crew prepares for ‘America’s Largest Balloon Parade’

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balloonsSAN DIEGO – The 22nd annual Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon parade will march through downtown Thursday. Putting on such a big event required a lot of work ahead of time.

Usually the crew members try to get a lot of the balloons inflated the night before the parade, but this year the weather forced them to wait until the morning of the parade.

Strong winds can damage the balloons, so Wednesday afternoon the crew inflated just a few of the smaller balloons, including Mr. Potato Head, Bob the Builder and the space shuttle. Later they decided to deflate Mr. Potato Head and Bob the Builder for the night.

Most of the balloons in Thursday’s parade are at least 50-feet tall, allowing organizers to dub it “America’s Largest Balloon Parade.”

“This year we have 65,000 cubic square feet of helium,” said Katharine LiMandri, parade spokeswoman. “Each of the balloons is a little bit different with how much helium that it takes. They fill up pretty quickly. Usually within a couple minutes you can get the balloons ready to go and flying in the sky. We have volunteers for each of the balloons that will carry them down the route and they will fly upwards of 50 feet in the air.”

LiMandri recommends parade patrons should arrive by 9 a.m. and take the trolley, since parking is limited. The parade is free and starts at 10 a.m.

The procession begins by heading south on Harbor Drive near Grape Street, then turns left on Ash Street to get over to Pacific Highway.  From there it will head south on Pacific Highway through Broadway to its end at E Street.