Published: Thursday, 14 May 2015 12:31
Written by VincentTroia (Administrator)
Smokey Bear, the guardian of our forests, is dressed in a ranger's hat, belted blue jeans, and carrying a shovel. He has been the recognized forest fire prevention symbol in America for over 50 years.
Smokey Bear was born on Aug. 9, 1944, when the U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council agreed that a fictional bear would be the symbol for their joint effort to promote forest fire prevention.On August 9, 1944, the first poster of Smokey Bear was produced, drawn by Albert Staehle. The poster depicted a bear pouring a bucket of water on a campfire and saying “Care will prevent 9 out of 10 fires.”
In 1945, Rudy Wedelin became Smokey's official artist. In 1947, the slogan became the familiar “Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires!”
In 1950, some careless person started the terrible Capitan Gap wild fire on the Lincoln National Forest in New Mexico. When a strong wind suddenly swept the fire toward a group of courageous firefighters, 24 of them had to run to a rock slide, lay face down, and cover their faces with handkerchiefs to escape the deadly flames. They emptied their canteens over their clothes and swatted their burning clothes. After an hour, the fire moved on. All 24 survived. When the smoke cleared and they caught their breath, they saw a scorched hillside where once a great forest stood. Baby Smokey with the vet who treated his burns.
Amongst the smoldering ashes was a tiny black bear cub, burnt and afraid, clinging to a tree. The cub was nicknamed "Hotfoot Teddy." They searched for the cub's mother, but could not find her. The cub needed veterinary aid for the burns on his paws and hindquarters, so he was flown to Santa Fe to receive professional treatment. While his wounds were healing, he stayed at the home of Ray Bell, the game warden who flew him to Santa Fe. Ray's daughter Judy Bell befriended the little bear and helped nurse him back to health.
The little bear had gained nationwide attention and was soon renamed Smokey after the symbol for fire prevention. Smokey was presented by the New Mexico State Game Warden to the the Chief of the Forest Service to be used to aid the fire prevention program.
Today, Smokey Bear is one of the most famous advertising symbols in the world and is protected by Federal Law. He has his own legal council and his own committee to insure that his name is used properly. Smokey Bear soon became popular, his image began appearing on other posters and cards, that he was given his own private zip code because he received such a large amount of fan mail. His image has been seen in stuffed toys, records, pens, sports items, clothing, and books, and he has become one of the most recognized characters worldwide.In
1952, Smokey Bear had enough public recognition to attract commercial interest. An Act of Congress passed to take Smokey out of the public domain and place him under the control of the Secretary of Agriculture. The Act provided for the use of collected fees and royalties for forest fire prevention. One of the first licensed items was a Smokey Bear stuffed toy, however hundreds of items have been licensed over the years.
You are cordially invited to meet Smokey Bear at the Gear & Cheer Music Festival and to learn about forest fire prevention.