He opens freezers with a single swipe, steals more food than a pic-a-nic basket for eight, and is definitely smarter than the average bear. He’s Meatball, Glendale’s beloved ursine highwayman—er, bear—who delighted and terrorized residents with his early morning capers in foothill neighborhoods.
The City of Glendale honored the bruin with his very own Rose Parade float, which won the Governor’s Trophy for Best Depiction of Life in California at the 125th parade on Jan. 1, 2014. Foothill residents across the San Gabriel Mountains will aver that the wildlife that thrives in suburban areas is indeed one of the joys of life in the state.
Aptly named “Let’s be Neighbors,” the float featured Meatball the California Black Bear popping in and out of a trash can, surrounded by the animals that are ubiquitous in the wildland-urban interface:
- A coyote, grinning and wagging its tail
- Western Gray Squirrel swinging from the garden gate
- California Mule Deer swaying its head
- North American Raccoon scratching at the trash can
- Striped Skunk doing the scariest thing a skunk can do, lifting its tail
- Red-tailed Hawk and American Goldfinch looking on
- Insects and arachnids out for a snack.
It was designed by Michelle Lofthouse and built by Phoenix Decorating Company. It was Glendale’s 100th Rose Parade entry. Human riders on the float dressed as folks doing various activities in the great outdoors in and around Glendale.
Meatball was named for digging a bag of Costco meatballs out of a freezer, but his fare also included trashcans, oranges, tuna, cake and baklava. That makes sense; Glendale has a large Armenian population, and Meatball’s other moniker is Glen Bearian.
When first apprehended, he was returned to the mountains, but he kept coming back, so eventually he was sent to the Lions, Tigers and Bears wild animal sanctuary in San Diego. The Los Angeles Times posted a picture of him having a great time in his temporary pen, playing in—what else—a trash can.
Flowering included roses, tulips, gerbera, sunflowers, cattleyas, Christmas tree, springeri, deflexis, daffodils, chrysanthemums, daisies, freesia, Cypress trees, Queen Anne Lace, calla lilies, larkspur, Bells of Ireland and gladiola.
The coats of the animals were primarily made of various grasses, and other dry materials included lentils, walnut shells, bark, seeds, strawflower, seaweed, rice, palm fiber, herbs and spices, silverleaf, dried flower petals, coffee, and corn silk.
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