Each year the Cradle of Forestry (here) holds a big birthday party for Smokey Bear. This year Smokey turned 71. I didn't get to his party this year, but will post some photographs of previous years when I have gone. I just love wandering around watching the children and their parents. Some of the children take the whole thing so seriously.
Most people think the Smokey Bear campaign started when a little cub with burned feet was rescued from a New Mexico forest fire in 1950. In fact, the campaign began in 1944 with the release of the first Smokey Bear poster. The bear cub rescued in 1950 was called Smokey and lived his life at the National Zoo in Washington, DC. Congress passed The Smokey Bear Act in 1952 to protect the image of Smokey Bear.
Many people mistakenly think Smokey's name is "Smokey The Bear." Really (if it matters to you) his name is actually "Smokey Bear." The "middle name" was added to a song about Smokey to make the rhythm flow better. That led to the children's joke:
Q: What is Smokey The Bear's middle name?
Smokey's birthday is celebrated across the United States with his "real" birthday being August 9th. The Cradle of Forestry typically celebrates on the first Saturday in August. The party is held on the grounds and is always the same. Multiple activity tents are set up to keep the children amused and to educate them. They are allowed to squirt water from a fire hose, to make Smokey Bear masks, decorate birthday cards, complete puzzles, and play all sorts of games. And there are dozens of birthday cakes at the end of the party.
The Visitor Center welcomes all to the party
A fireman prepares to assist a little girl squirt the hose
Pin the pail on the fire was quite popular
And there was plenty of cake for all.
Twenty or so cakes were spread over the area so there were no long lines or whines.
And, of course, a visit from the big guy himself
For many years, the most recognizable slogan in the United States was Smokey's "Only YOU can prevent forest fires." In 2001 the slogan was changed to "Only YOU can prevent wildfires."
Today there are at least 20 wildfires burning in California. Our thoughts go out to those who are affected and to those brave persons who risk their lives fighting the fires.
It's August and I'm taking a two week break. Company coming. I'll still visit your blogs but I won't be posting.