GLOUSTER — Burr Oak State Park and Wayne National Forest invite the public to come and celebrate Smokey Bear’s 70th birthday on Saturday, Aug. 9, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Burr Oak State Park Beach.
“Since his birth on Aug. 9, 1944, Smokey Bear has been a recognized symbol of conservation and protection of America’s forests,” said Wayne National Forest Public Affairs Officer Gary C. Chancey. “Wayne National Forest is happy to join Burr Oak State Park in celebrating Smokey Bear’s birthday. We look forward to celebrating many more birthdays of our beloved icon.”
Families will get an opportunity to get pictures with Smokey Bear and enjoy an up-close look at a fire engine, participate in children’s activities, and meet some of Smokey Bear’s forest friends. Participants also have a chance to learn more about wildfire prevention.
This event is being held along with many others around the nation by the U.S. Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters, and the Ad Council.
Smokey Bear’s message about wildfire prevention has helped to reduce the number of acres lost annually to wildfires, from about 22 million (1944) to an average of 6.7 million annually today. However, wildfire prevention remains one of the most critical issues affecting our country.
Many Americans believe that lightening starts most wildfires. In fact, nine out of 10 wildfires nationwide are started by humans. Wildfires sparked by humans are most commonly caused by campfires left unattended, trash burning on windy days, careless discarding of smoking materials, BBQ coals, and operating equipment without spark arrestors.
“Our Wildfire Prevention campaign has helped children and adults throughout the country understand their role in preventing wildfires,” said Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “For 70 years, Smokey Bear has empowered people to make a difference; his message of personal responsibility continues to be as critical and relevant now as ever.”
Smokey Bear is the center of the longest-running public service advertising (PSA) campaign in U.S. history. Since 1944, the Ad Council, ad agency FCB West, and the U.S. Forest Service have been helping Smokey communicate his well-known message, “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires.”
To help reward and thank those that take steps to help prevent wildfires, Smokey is giving out bear hugs online, using #SmokeyBearHug. He’s also directing fans to his website, www.smokeybear.com, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter for more information about wildfire prevention.