PASADENA (CNS) - The most famous of the Southland's wayward bears will be represented during the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena New Year's Day when an animatronic version of Meatball -- the animal who gained notoriety in foothill communities where he liked to forage and beyond -- rides as the central character on Glendale's float.
The float is themed ``Let's Be Neighbors,'' according to Lions, Tigers & Bears, the San Diego County wildlife sanctuary where Meatball now makes his permanent home.
It advocates neighborhoods in which people and wildlife peacefully coexist, according to Bobbi Brink, the sanctuary's founder and director.
Meatball, an adult California black bear, earned his nickname because he was once spotted raiding a garage freezer of Costco meatballs.
He is also known as Glen Bearian because Glendale became one of the Los Angeles County communities where he liked to forage.
The animal, who had been seen taking dips in residential swimming pools in between trash can raids, was twice captured and relocated to the Angeles National Forest.
He was captured in the same neighborhood a final time in August 2012 and was relocated to the sanctuary.
A key message behind the float is ensuring neighborhoods are safer for people and wildlife by doing things like securing trash cans and keeping pets inside homes at night and other times when bears are around, according to Brink.
``I think its a great message,'' she said.
The sanctuary is raising money to build a new habitat for Meatball. Learn more at http://www.crowdrise.com/LionsTigersBearsHabitat