San Diego claims the Big Bay Balloon Parade is “America’s largest balloon parade,” with about 100,000 people attending to watch dozens of inflatable cartoon characters, marching bands, color guards, and, this year, local basketball hero Bill Walton as grand marshal.
Besides the 5K run and a wiener-dog race at the December 30 parade down North Harbor Drive, there were other entertainments just outside the parade route…
1) A morose man sat handcuffed in a squad car after police had relieved him of his sign proclaiming “CA Stinks” and “The STATE has stolen my LIFE.” Officers appeared to be interrogating the man, but one then spotted a friend in the crowd, apparently an off-duty comrade, and they lost interest in the detainee and struck up a conversation.
2) A member of a well-represented religious group was eager to explain his evidence that the Rapture would be a five-month process beginning on May 21, 2011, and that anyone left on Earth by the following October would be swallowed by an earthquake. Another person from this group — wearing sandwich boards that warned of the same End Times scenario— was gently removed from the middle of the parade route as it began.
3) Inflatable Betty Boop got stuck under a stoplight at North Harbor Drive and W. Ash Street. She eventually limbo’ed her way loose.
4) A girl and her mother leafleted for Dr. Prison, Inc. — a service that offers consultations to advise prospective convicts about how to increase their likelihood of surviving a prison term.
5) “Can we go home now?” At this kid-friendly event, where spectators lined up an hour or more early and where cool marine winds whipped constantly, this was the most commonly uttered phrase from the ten-and-under set. A close second was “But I can’t see!”