Smokey Bear is gearing up for his New Hampshire birthday party at Franconia Notch State Park on Aug. 15 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
This summer, Smokey has appeared at public libraries, the New Hampshire Veterans Home, the N.H. Farm and Forest Expo, Discover Wild New Hampshire Day, a N.H. Fisher Cats game, several county fairs, old home day festivities, parades and other events to help raise awareness about wildfire prevention.
At Smokey’s party on Thursday, attendees can enjoy free tethered rides on the Friends of Smokey Bear hot air balloon (weather permitting), ride the Cannon Mountain tramway with Smokey, play games, enjoy live fiddle music by the Fiddling Thomsons and share some birthday cake with Smokey Bear. A food vendor will provide barbecue items at a cost.
New Hampshire is a leader for the number of events currently listed on the national Smokey Bear 75th birthday website, smokeybear75th.org, with only Texas and Wisconsin listing more scheduled events than the Granite State.
New Hampshire, the second most-forested state in the country, experiences an average of 250 wildfires per year, burning 250 acres. Nationally, with 90 percent of wildfires caused by human involvement, remaining vigilant about wildfire prevention, providing early detection and coordination of suppression efforts is essential in mitigating the damage that wildfires can cause not only to forests, but also to homes, businesses and lives.
Smokey Bear began as a print campaign designed by the War Ad Council during World War II, when experienced firefighters were overseas and the public was called upon to help reduce wildfire risks. Expanded over the decades to include outreach through radio, television, internet and more, it remains the longest-running public service advertising campaign in U.S. history.
Anyone interested in learning more about wildfire prevention is encouraged to contact their local fire department or the N.H. Forest Protection Bureau. Information is also available from the National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise Communities website: firewise.org.