by Rick Griffin
San Diego County Credit Union (SDCCU), San Diego’s largest locally-owned financial institution with three local East County branches in El Cajon, La Mesa and Santee, is returning as the presenting sponsor of the 23rd annual Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade. SDCCU has supported this event for the past 11 years. Known as “America’s Largest Balloon Parade,” the parade is set to step off at 10 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 30 on the North Embarcadero in Downtown San Diego, near the County Administration Building on North Harbor Drive. The parade is expected to attract more than 100,000 viewers who will observe more than 20 giant character balloon entries, more than any other parade in the country, including Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, and approximately 19 marching bands along Harbor Drive’s scenic bay-front route. Already confirmed for an appearance at the parade will be SDCCU’s 30-foot-high helium inflatable sailboat. In all, the balloons flying in the 2013 parade are expected to require more than 50,000 cubic feet of helium. As in previous years, the parade is scheduled to be televised locally on Channel 4, and broadcast nationally on the USA Network. USA Network has previously aired the parade telecast at various times following the actual parade day.