August 9, 2019 College Station, TX — Smokey Bear, the face of the longest-running PSA campaign in United States history, turns 75 today, continuing his legacy of bringing awareness to unwanted, human-caused fires in America.
Smokey Bear’s wildfire prevention campaign has had a dramatic impact since its introduction in 1944. This progress continues today, with an approximate 14 percent reduction in the average number of human-caused wildfires from 2011-2018, compared to the previous 10 years. While it’s clear his work has been successful, 9 out of 10 wildfires are still caused by humans, which means Smokey’s iconic message is as important as ever.
To celebrate the wildfire prevention icon’s milestone birthday, the USDA Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters, and the Ad Council are releasing new PSAs featuring Betty White, announcing the addition of a new Smokey Bear balloon in the 2019 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and promoting Smokey birthday parties and local events across the nation.
Left: Smokey Bear's debut poster. Art by Albert Staehle. Right: 75th anniversary commemorative artwork from the Forest Service
Together, these three partners make up the Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention (CFFP) Committee, the coalition behind Smokey Bear and his wildfire prevention campaign.
“The hardest working bear in the world, Smokey, has for decades now tirelessly shared with the public the message ‘Only You Can Prevent Wildfires,’” said U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen. “And I’m certain that 75 years from now, Smokey will still be active in his duty of spreading the wildfire prevention message – reminding us to do our part in preventing unwanted wildfire.”
The celebration of Smokey’s legacy will continue this fall with the debut of his new character balloon in the 93rd annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade®.
A fan-favorite, Smokey Bear first debuted as a giant character balloon in the 1966 Macy’s Parade and participated in the holiday spectacle every year until 1981. In celebration of his 50th birthday in 1993, Smokey made his last appearance before this year’s return to form.
Texas State Forester Tom Boggus will be holding one of Smokey Bear’s character balloon ropes, guiding America’s national champion of wildfire prevention through the streets of New York City in Smokey’s return to the world-famous Macy’s parade line-up.
Catch Smokey in action during the 93rd annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade airing nationwide on NBC, Thursday, November 28 from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM, in all time zones.
“Smokey Bear and his friends know that wildfire is not just a western issue or a summer phenomenon. It’s always wildfire season somewhere in the United States,” said Jay Farrell, executive director of the National Association of State Foresters. “This is why it is so important that Smokey’s message resonate year-round and nationwide with all Americans. This year’s Smokey Bear wildfire prevention campaign and the hundreds of events held in his honor promise to do just that.”
To learn more about Smokey Bear and wildfire prevention, visit www.smokeybear.com and follow Smokey on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the hashtags #SmokeyBear75 and #OnlyYou. To find a Smokey event near you, visit www.smokeybear75th.org/.