Friday, Aug. 9, is a special day for a special bear. Smokey Bear turns 75 years old.
There are icons and then there is Smokey Bear. Iconic mascots and images come and go but Smokey and his one clear message “Only you can prevent wildfires” has stood the test of time — 75 years to be exact.
Smokey, who has never given an interview, has appeared alongside presidents and movie stars including John F. Kennedy and Betty White. But most importantly Smokey has appeared with thousands and thousands of children throughout his illustrious career leaving them with a powerful understanding of what they can do to prevent wildfires.
“It’s truly amazing how Smokey’s message has reached out to generation after generation,” said Gwen Beavans, one of Smokey’s USDA Forest Service spokespersons. Beavans explained that the image of Smokey Bear began in 1944 with the wartime advertising council and the need to prevent wildfires, which were a threat that used up resources especially during World War II.
Today Smokey couldn’t be more thrilled that his timeless message of fire prevention is getting exposed to a new generation of kids. Smokey really wants these young folks to know that the vast majority of destructive wildfires are started by careless behavior like not properly putting out a campfire or adults tossing cigarettes out of a car window.
So how do you celebrate the birthday of the world’s most famous Bear? With lots of celebrations.
In fact, Smokey’s birthday year kicked-off with a nationwide recognition in this year’s Tournament of Roses Parade where Smokey appeared with USDA Forest Service employees and other partners as they walked the parade route in sunny Pasadena not far from the Angeles National Forest.
Smokey Bear can be seen in Big Bear on occasion at various events. Keep an eye out to wish him a happy birthday.