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Work rolls along on 'Meatball' Rose float

Project featuring Glendale's famous bear is called 'an animal of its own.'

November 15, 2013|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com
  • 'Meatball' the Glendale bear peeks from a garbage can in a design created by Phoenix Decorating Company for Glendale's 2014 Tournament of Roses Parade float.
'Meatball' the Glendale bear peeks from a… (Courtesy of Brian…)

The shell of Glendale's 2014 Tournament of Roses Parade float, featuring an animatronic version of the famed Glendale bear Meatball, has been constructed and painted.

All that's left on the checklist to complete the $150,000 float is the addition of dry decorating materials, which will be added on at the beginning of December, and the placement of fresh flowers, which is set to begin a few days before the Pasadena parade on Jan. 1.

“It became very whimsical,” said Brian Dancel, spokesman for Phoenix Decorating Company, which decorated the 35-foot-long float. “It's kind of cartoonish.”

The float, which is 18-feet wide and 25-feet tall, was inspired by Meatball, the black bear that made multiple visits to Glendale and La Crescenta. The bear became known for his appetite after he was seen snacking on frozen meatballs in a garage refrigerator as well as baklava and rice from a trash can.

Meatball was caught and sent deep into the Angeles National Forest by California Department of Fish & Wildlife twice after roaming foothill neighborhoods. After his third visit state officials trapped him using a trail of McDonald's french fries and then drove him to Lions, Tigers & Bears, an animal sanctuary in Alpine, east of San Diego.

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In addition to the bear, which is set to move up and down out of a trash can, the float includes a squirrel on a swing and other forest creatures.

“It's a very, very cute float,” Dancel said. “You knew it was going to be cute when you saw it on paper, but once you see it in person it's an animal of its own.”

The city is still raising money to pay for the float. Although the City Council agreed to use city money to pay for it up front, they called on the community to backfill the expenditure. The city's goal is to get $75,000 donated, said Community Development Director Jess Duran.

This will be the costliest float in years, an expense Glendale officials were willing to pay because the float marks the city's 100th entry into the annual parade.

So far, the city has raised $12,459. A fundraiser for the float, which is set to include a meatball-tasting contest, is scheduled for Nov. 23 at Deukmejian Wilderness Park, 3429 Markridge Road in La Crescenta, from noon to 4 p.m.

Admission will be $20 at the door and is tax deductible.

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Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.

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