“We are thrilled the webbed feet of the World Famous San Diego Chicken will fill the shoes as the parade’s grand marshal this year,” said 2006 parade chairman Brad Roppe. “It will be quite a treat to see the hardest working bird in show business lead off America’s Largest Balloon Parade.”
In addition to showcasing the high profile grand marshal, the parade will feature more giant character balloons than any parade in the country. Bert, Ernie, Miss Piggy and Clifford the Big Red Dog are four of the 32 inflatables scheduled to soar in the 16th annual event. The 90-minute parade will air live locally on Channel 4 San Diego and re-broadcast five times. A 60-minute edited version of the parade will air nationally on the USA Network on Friday, December 29 at 9 a.m. PST.
It was 32 years ago that Ted Giannoulas began his illustrious career as The Chicken on a whim while attending San Diego State University. When a representative from a local radio station showed up looking for a student to festoon himself in a chicken suit, Giannoulas obliged. He spent the weekend at the Zoo, where he made a modest $2 per hour giving away Easter eggs to children.
More than three decades later, he has built his bird into a dynasty. He has appeared in all 50 states, on four continents, and in front of an estimated 60 million people. He is credited with being the first ever professional sports mascot. In 1982 he became the first mascot ever with his own baseball card.
He has appeared onstage with musical acts ranging from Paul McCartney to The Ramones. The magazine, Rolling Stone, has called him simply, The Legend. He has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, in front of several presidents and in the cult film, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.
Streetside viewing of the parade is free, though grandstand seating is available for $15. For information call (619) 283-5808.