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Glendale approves 'Meatball' the bear Rose Parade float

July 24, 2013
  • The Glendale City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved this design for the city's 100th entry in the upcoming Tournament of Roses Parade.
The Glendale City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved… (City of Glendale )

A floral depiction of Glendale’s most famous former ursine resident -- "Meatball" -- will be the centerpiece of the city’s next Rose Parade float, council members decided Tuesday. 

After he was caught devouring frozen Costco meatballs from a garage refrigerator in Glendale last year, “Meatball” the bear gained celebrity status for frequent jaunts through the city's hillside neighborhoods until his removal to a San Diego County wildlife sanctuary in August. 

Titled “Let’s be neighbors,” the Glendale float will feature the 400-pound California black bear’s animatronic likeness popping up and down inside a trash can — its lid teetering on his head — as he's surrounded by wildlife companions, including a waving raccoon, skunk, deer and red-tailed hawk. 

The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the $155,000 project, concocted by a panel of city workers and float-builder Phoenix Decorating Co.

Mayor Dave Weaver noted that Meatball’s star turn has already sparked widespread enthusiasm about the float.

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“I never thought [the float] would take off like that. People have associated with Meatball so strongly,” said Weaver, a longtime booster for the city’s Rose Parade entries. 

The float will be the city’s 100th in the Rose Parade, a record of participation second only to Los Angeles, Glendale Community Services and Parks Director Jess Duran said. 

“I think it’s a really cute float and very topical, and really the first one in a long time that speaks to people,” Councilwoman Laura Friedman said. 

While many of the city’s past floats have privileged style over substance, “this one kind of says something,” Friedman continued. “A lot of us would like to work it out with wildlife and live side-by-side with them.” 

Despite voting for the design, Councilman Ara Najarian shared a less than rose-colored view of Meatball’s removal from Glendale after two attempts to relocate the persistent visitor deep within the Angeles National Forest. 

Najarian said state wildlife officials should have made more attempts to release Meatball into the wild and was critical of his temporary placement in a fenced concrete enclosure. 

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