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Smokey Bear Is 70 Today

David McNew/Getty Images

Today is his big day. Smokey Bear has been warning about the dangers of wildfires for seven decades.

Smokey Bear was born on August 9, 1944, when the U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council agreed that a fictional bear named Smokey would be the symbol for their joint effort to promote forest fire prevention.

The first poster of Smokey Bear depicted a bear pouring a bucket of water on a campfire and saying “Care will prevent 9 out of 10 fires.” Smokey soon became popular as his image appeared on a variety of forest fire prevention materials. In 1947, his slogan became the familiar “Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires!” In 2001, Smokey’s public relations team updated his classic line to “Only YOU Can Prevent Wildfires” and revamped the campaign to address the growing threat of devastating wildfires in suburban and urban areas.

In 1952 Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins wrote a song that started a debate among Smokey enthusiasts for the next several decades. In order to maintain the correct rhythm, the writers added the word “the” between “Smokey” and “Bear”. A television special and Saturday morning TV series further reinforced the “Smokey The Bear” name.

Although Smokey Bear became known as “Smokey The Bear” to many fans, in actuality the name of the star of the longest-running public service ad campaign in U.S. history never changed, and he is still known correctly as Smokey Bear.

BTW, Smokey is now a blogger, with accounts on Facebook, Twitter (Smokey_Bear), Instagram, YouTube and Flickr. He has more than 300,000 friends on Facebook and 24,000 people follow him on Twitter. Check out Smokey’s Happy 70th Birthday video on YouTube.



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