Smokey Bear turns 70 years old this Saturday, August 9, 2014. As the icon featured in the longest running public service campaign in U.S. History, he was created in 1944 by the U.S. Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters and the Ad Council, along with his trademark, “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires,” and has helped reduce the number of acres burned annually by wildfires from 22 million in 1944 to an average of 6.7 million annually today.
To commemorate Smokey Bear’s seven decades of impact, the U.S. Forest Service will be hosting a birthday party in Washington, D.C. at the USDA Whitten Patio from 1pm- 3pm ET on August 8. USDA Under Secretary Robert Bonnie, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, Ad Council President and CEO Peggy Conlon, New Jersey State Forester, Lynn Fleming and Smokey Bear himself will be in attendance for the festivities.
Actor Sam Elliott, who has been in such movie as Roadhouse, The Big Lebowski, and Tombstone, has served as the voice of Smokey Bear since 2008 and coincidentally shares the same birthday, turning 70 years old as well on August 9th.
“I’m proud to help celebrate Smokey Bear’s 70th birthday and the extraordinary impact his wildfire prevention campaign has had on our country,” said Elliott. “Living in Southern California, I have seen firsthand the devastation that wildfires can have on communities, and it reminds all of us about the importance of Smokey’s message of personal responsibility.”
This past April, the campaign released PSAs to commemorate Smokey’s 70 years. Created pro bono by FCB West, the new TV, web, print, radio and outdoor ads show outdoor lover celebrating Smokey’s 70 years of service by thanking him with a hug. This is an extension of the last round of PSAs where Smokey rewards those that take steps to help prevent wildfires by giving them a hug; viewers can participate online using #SmokeyBearHug. In recent years, Smokey has expanded his digital presence, cultivating robust communities to communicate his wildfire prevention messaging. In addition to his website, www.smokeybear.com, Smokey also has a large following on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter for more information about wildfire prevention. His own zip code, 20252, used as a place to receive and collect fan mail has re-launched this summer in celebration of his 70 years.
Celebrations continue online, including a digital birthday card allowing users to leave a congratulatory message or picture. Beginning this week, sponsored posts will also run on Instagram, featuring new photographs from Smokey incorporating images of fire safety actions. Fans and followers are encouraged to share their memories and well-wishes for Smokey on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using #SmokeyBday, or giving their own #SmokeyBearHug.
If you do want have your own celebration for him, Smokey would request that no lit candles should be used on the birthday cake.
In other 70th birthday celebration news, Mariano Martinez turned 70 on August 5. Why should we care? His invention is a part of our culinary history. His original machine now resides in the Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of American History alongside Julia Child's kitchen, where it is seen at the forefront of the Mexican food evolution. His invention is the frozen margarita machine. Senor Martinez is still active with a collection of six restaurants in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.