'Meatball' could be main attraction of Glendale's next Rose Parade float

Glendale's 2014 Tournament of Roses Parade float could end up going to the bears.

"Meatball" the bear -- who got his nickname after being caught eating frozen Costco meatballs from a garage refrigerator in Glendale last year -- became a media sensation last year after several high profile captures that culminated in a one-way ticket to a wildlife sanctuary in San Diego County.

Now, the bear’s likeness could take center stage on Glendale’s next Rose Parade float.

The City Council on Tuesday is scheduled to review the float’s design, which includes an animatronic Meatball moving up and down out of a trash can (think Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street) surrounded by other furry friends from the mountains, such as a skunk, squirrel and coyote.

The float, if approved, would be called “Let’s be Neighbors” under the parade’s 2014 theme, “Dreams Come True.”

“The float dreams of the day when all the area’s residents -- people and wildlife alike -- can all get along together,” according to a city report.

Meatball was tranquilized multiple times and transported deep into the Angeles National Forest, yet continued to find his way back to Glendale’s foothill neighborhoods to forage for food.The episodes spawned a popular Twitter handle that gained thousands of followers as his movements were tracked live by news cameras.

After his third capture, state wildlife officials transported the black bear to a sanctuary in Alpine, where he remains.

The float on which Meatball may be featured will be Glendale’s 100th entry in the New Year’s Day parade and it’s most expensive in years. The city has set aside $155,000 for the craft, but officials have been trying to raise money from corporate and community sponsors to backfill the appropriation.

The goal is to raise at least $75,000 to cut the impact on the city’s budget by half, but so far, officials have raised just $10,000 from a local developer and $160 in community donations.

-- Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com

Follow on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.


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