Spectators braved chilly and windy conditions Thursday as more than 20 large balloons, mostly of children's cartoon characters, were carried down North Harbor Drive for the Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade.It was one of several events along San Diego's waterfront leading up to the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl.According to the Port of San Diego, this parade is referred to as "America's Largest Balloon Parade," because there were 22 balloons -- seven more balloons than what's seen in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Throngs of people braved the cold morning, trying to catch that high flying glimpse of the balloons.Former basketball star and television commentator Bill Walton, a San Diego resident who grew up in La Mesa, served as the grand marshal. Ten marching bands, including those of the universities of Nebraska and Washington, also participated."I don't know, it's pretty even," said Kathryn Piper, a University of Washington fan from Bakersfield. "You see Nebraska fans in one place and more Huskies fans in others."On the ground, gusty winds almost took a few balloons down, as balloon handlers scrambled, but visitors told us, this weather isn't anything like back at home."It's great, compared to being in Nebraska where its 18 degrees right now," added Justin Potter, who leads the University of Nebraska's marching band.Some marching bands like students from Lake Zurich High School near Chicago tell us they barely made it to San Diego."We took two flights to get down here," said Krystyna Keena, from Illinois. "Half of the band was stuck on a flight with a three-hour delay."But there was no delaying the start of this parade at its 10 a.m. start time and lasted about an hour.The parade was followed by a family festival at the Broadway Pier.Before the parade, there was a 5K run and a race between eight dachshunds in the Wienerschnitzel "Wiener Nationals."Traffic was heavy in that area until about noon.