Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Big Bay Balloon Parade

San Diego's Big Bay Balloon Parade, held in conjunction with the Holiday Bowl, was billed as "America’s Largest Balloon Parade." With that claim in mind, I headed down to see what the preparations for such a parade were like. Because the activity Life in the staging area can be chaotic, but it's interesting to see how it all comes together in the best of parades that just deal with people. Now add large balloons and a good wind and a whole new dimension is added.

To begin with, a 5K run had been scheduled before the parade, and I met a couple of the participants near the staging area.
(I still find it pretty amazing how close San Diego's downtown is to the approach pattern to Lindbergh Field.)
As I watched the balloons leave the staging area, I wondered if the billing for the parade should have been "America's Largest (Number of) Balloons."
The Balloon Platoon from Pleasanton, CA, was one of the earliest entries in the parade. After photographing them from a spot about five deep in the group of spectators, I decided to move around a one block area taking photos from different angles. I moved away from the photos of the balloons, bands, and groups and focused on individuals and details of the parade.

UCLA and Baylor played in the Holiday Bowl game, and the UCLA cheerleading squad provided a few acrobatic lifts and flips for the crowd before they took their position in the parade.

Without music, photos of bands miss a great deal, so I focus on the individual members and the instruments of the bands that participated.

Here is a member of the Salvation Army Band,

a member of the Pottsgrove High School Band from Pottstown, PA,
a member of the UCLA Band, and
a member of the Gehlan Catholic School Band from LeMars, IA.
When I saw this row of marching tubas, I was so focused on the instruments that I failed to note the name of the band or its hometown.

When I saw the Wienerschnitzel balloon in the staging area, I thought this was one worried wiener.

The reason for the wiener's "concern" was apparent as noontime approached.

Around that time the wind began to pick up.

To reduce the risk of the balloon being tossed around, the guides kept the balloon near the ground--thus incurring the possibility of a scraped nose for the wiener.

Woody, too, was carried along in this contorted position to prevent his flying away.
But Shamu was tossed around and appeared to be squashing one of the guides.

Even this tall ship in the bay seemed to be having some trouble with the wind.

The high-wheel or penny farthing bicycle drew a lot of attention,

as did this young dancer.

I don't know if the parade organizers saved this final balloon for the last spot, but this was definitely my favorite--Mr. Potato Head.

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