Happy Birthday to Smokey the Bear! A robust 78 years old today, Smokey is still dutifully at it, still spreading the word about fire prevention and safety for everyone.
Smokey the Bear was born on August 9, 1944, when the U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council both agreed that a fictional bear would be the symbol going forward for their efforts to promote forest fire prevention and safety. Smokey was named after a famously brave NYFD firefighter named Joe Martin, nicknamed “Smokey”. The artist Albert Staehle, a popular cover artist for the ‘Saturday Evening Post’ magazine at the time, was commissioned to paint the very first poster of Smokey Bear.
Smokey the Bear’s image may have changed and been modernized a bit over the ensuing years, but his familiar phrase — “Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires!” has remained unchanged and become even more meaningful in today’s warming world. The phrase was adopted as his official message a few years after Smokey began, in 1947, the year his slogan first appeared.
Smokey the Bear has been spreading the word about forest fire prevention and safety ever since. More recently, and sadly due to climate change, Smokey’s message has expanded to include the Prevention of Wildfires.
Smokey the Bear became more popular when, in the spring of 1950 in the Capitan Mountains of New Mexico, a young bear cub was trapped as the forest burned around him. Taking refuge in a tree, the young bear was able to survive the blaze, although badly burned. Rescued by firefighters who were so moved by the cub’s survival, he was named “Smokey”. News about the real Smokey soon spread nationwide. Later, the real-life Smokey was moved and given a new, permanent home in the National Zoo located in Washington, D. C. During his life, this bear survivor played an important role in helping to spread Smokey the Bear’s fire prevention and conservation messages. After his death in 1976, he was returned to Capitan, New Mexico, and buried in the State Historical Park.
Smokey the Bear’s forest and wildfire prevention messages remain vitally relevant and important today. According to the Earth Eclipse site —
“90% of all wildfires are caused by humans. Human acts of carelessness such as leaving campfires unattended and negligent discarding of cigarette butts result in wildfire disasters every year. Accidents, deliberate acts of arson, burning of debris, and fireworks are as well other substantial causes of wildfires.”
To help children and families to learn more about Smokey the Bear and his fire safety and awareness messages, Little Red Bear has created a separate page of Smokey the Bear Coloring Images for everyone! We invite you to download and print as many copies as you like for hours of family coloring fun, all Free because that’s how we roll here.
Thanks always for visiting and spending part of your day with us! We hope you visit often to check out all of the free posts, features, puzzles, games, coloring pages, and other activities for the family!
My story character friend Little Red Bear and I both encourage you to visit and enjoy the great outdoors, spending healthy quality time with Mother Nature. When visiting outdoors, as Smokey the Bear would say today — Please Remember – Only YOU Can Prevent Forest and Wildfires!
So, wishing a very Happy Birthday and many more to Little Red Bear’s cousin Smokey the Bear! — Jim (and Red!)
P.S. – with children heading off to school soon, we invite you to visit Little Red Bear’s “Back-To-School” Coloring Pages for even more hours of family coloring fun!
If you enjoyed this piece, you may also like — “I Will Greet This Day With Love In My Heart” and “Judge Softly” or “Walk a Mile in His Moccasins”
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“Only YOU Can Prevent Forest and Wildfires!” — Smokey the Bear
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2 thoughts on “Happy Birthday to Smokey the Bear!”
Thank YOU for visiting, Rosie! “Smokey the Bear” was a frequent reminder of fire safety and awareness as I grew up thru the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, too. I was unaware of the background story, so when I came across it the other day thought it might be good to share for others to learn more about it and as a timely reminder of outdoor safety with all of the raging wildfires we have these days. 🤠 🐻
I remember, ” Smokey the Bear” growing up. Such interesting facts, James!
Thanks for sharing his story. 🙂
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