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Rose Parade float may aid Glendale bear's habitat

Fundraising efforts for city's Rose Parade entry could help Meatball.

August 11, 2013|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com
  • Meatball, the famed Glendale bear who rummaged through trash cans before he was captured, twice, and transported to an animal sanctuary in San Diego in August 2012, has been sharing a portion of an outdoor habitat with four other bears as he awaits construction on his new home.
Meatball, the famed Glendale bear who rummaged through… (Courtesy of Lions,…)

When the woman who helped shine a spotlight on famed bear Meatball first heard the bruin's hometown was trying to raise money for a float in his honor, she worried that the funding could be better spent helping Meatball — also called Glen Bearian — directly.

The beloved bear was uprooted from Glendale last year because of his ongoing trash-eating habits.

The sanctuary that adopted Meatball a year ago still hasn't raised enough money to build him his own habitat. What's wanted is an enclosure that is complete with a water feature and lots of open space. City officials are trying to take advantage of the bear's popularity, seeking donations to cover at least half of a planned $155,000 float featuring an animated model of the 500-pound bear popping out of a trash can.

But then Sarah Aujero, who tweets in Meatball's name and sells merchandise to aid the Alpine shelter where he lives — everything from bear buttons to T-shirts to tote bags featuring a cartoon version of his derriere — started thinking this isn't just any float.

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This float will be seen by millions who watch the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena on New Year's Day.

"Lots of people will watch the Rose Parade and will love this float," the Glendale resident said. "Only good can come from it."

Aujero's not the only Meatball enthusiast on board with the float fundraising efforts.

Bobbi Brink, founder of Lions, Tigers & Bears, the shelter that took Meatball in, is also supporting the float, despite its price tag, because of the awareness factor.

"We hope it will help other bears by raising awareness about co-existing with wildlife," she said, adding that Lions Tigers & Bears plans to work with the city to help promote fundraising for the float.

Aujero has started her own online fundraising efforts for the float — in addition to the online fundraising she does for Lions Tigers & Bears by selling Meatball merchandise. So far, she's raised only $40 of her $25,000 goal.

The fundraiser is set to run on whenyouwish.com, a Kickstarter-type site for charitable projects, through Sept. 25.

Aujero is also planning to partner with other community groups to host additional fundraising opportunities for the float. She imagines meatball cooking contests and dinner auctions featuring menus of the bear's favorite foods.

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