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Smokey Bear celebrates 75th birthday

By Central Office August 7, 2019

Contact(s): Catherine Koele, DNR wildfire prevention specialist, 608-219-9075

Cheers to 75 years preventing wildfires

Smokey Bear is celebrating his 75th year of preventing wildfires. - Photo credit: DNR
Smokey Bear is celebrating his 75th year of preventing wildfires.Photo credit: DNR

MADISON, Wis. - For 75 years, Smokey Bear has been protecting our forests and getting the word out about wildfire prevention. In honor of Smokey Bear's 75th birthday on August 9, 2019, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is celebrating the nation's favorite bear.

You can help the beloved fire prevention icon Smokey Bear celebrate his 75th birthday at the Wisconsin State Fair this Friday. Enjoy family-friendly activities from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with Smokey appearances for a special birthday ceremony throughout the day. Don't miss the fun activities and a chance to earn a Smokey birthday gift bag.

"Smokey Bear ranks right up there behind Santa Claus and Mickey Mouse," says Catherine Koele, DNR wildfire prevention specialist. "Many of us remember Smokey from our childhoods. We'd see him in parades, on posters, in magazines or occasionally in TV commercials.If we were lucky enough, maybe he'd stop by the classroom and teach us about fire safety."

The DNR is once again in the north building at Exploratory Park located on the south side of Main Street across from the Original Cream Puff Pavilion. If you can't make it for his birthday, you are never too old to visit Smokey's Schoolhouse throughout State Fair and learn about how to prevent wildfires. If you can't get to the Fairgrounds, watch Smokey show off his dancing skills on the steps of the Capitol in a F.I.R.E video with Wisconsin firefighters as they sing happy birthday to the YMCA tune from the Village People.

To honor and observe this historic event, Gov. Tony Evers named August 9, 2019 'Smokey Bear's 75th Birthday' with an official Governor Proclamation recognizing Smokey's contribution to the education, health and safety for all Wisconsinites.

On the latest episode the DNR's podcast "Wild Wisconsin: Off the Record," hear DNR Wildfire Prevention Specialist Catherine Koele and Property Supervisor Sara Pearson talk all things Smokey Bear from fun facts to wearing the suit. Off The Record brings you inside voices on Wisconsin's outdoors. Subscribe and listen for free in your favorite podcast app.

Throughout his birthday year, Smokey will be giving back to communities across Wisconsin. The DNR is partnering with the non-profit organization Box of Balloons to support fire prevention and the mission to make a child's birthday happy, celebrated and memorable.

Coordinated by eleven chapters across the state, Box of Balloons provides birthday boxes to children in need. This year, Box of Balloons is highlighting outdoor recreation and Smokey Bear themed birthday boxes for Pre-Kindergarten through 2nd Grade. Many box and birthday celebrations will include a surprise visit by Smokey Bear.DNR forestry staff, acting as Smokey, will also provide fire prevention activities to educate and entertain the children attending each party. This unique partnership helps both organizationsexpand into rural communities and introduce Smokey to children while making them feel special and celebrated on their birthdays.

Smokey will also be making appearances at several of our state parks and forests in the coming weeks. On August 9, the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest is coordinating a special scavenger hunt and birthday party with cake and prizes.

On August 10, Mirror Lake State Park is having a party with games, goodie bags and a reading of the "True Story of Smokey Bear." Kohler-Andre State Park is also having a party August 10 with fire equipment, party snacks and a skit by the Madison All-Stars 4-H Club.

Visit the DNR website to find other Smokey Bear events at our state parks and forests in the coming weeks by searching "Smokey" within the event calendar. Looking to do more? Visit Box of Balloons to help give a Smokey Bear themed birthday kits to kids in need.

Last Revised: Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Contact information

Need an expert? Contact the Office of Communications.

The Office of Communications connects journalists with DNR experts on a wide range of topics. For the fastest response, please email DNRPress@Wisconsin.gov and the first available Communications Specialist will respond to you.

For more information about news and media, contact:
Sarah Hoye
Director Of Communications
Office Of The Secretary