The face of the longest-running PSA campaign in the United States, Smokey Bear, is coming to Texas A&M University to celebrate his 75th birthday Saturday.
Texas A&M Forest Service is hosting a birthday bash for Smokey Bear. The event will be at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19. Smokey Bear’s birthday bash is a free event, open to people of all ages. Along with the world-famous hot air balloon, there will be children’s games, bounce houses, a meet and greet with Smokey, birthday cakes and educational booths.
Smokey Bear is America’s national champion of wildfire prevention and has had a dramatic impact in reducing the number of human-caused wildfires in his 75 years of service, according to the Texas A&M Fire Safety website. The birthday bash will offer educational tools to continue preventing wildfires and to celebrate the impact of Smokey Bear.
According to Caylee Reid, communication specialist for the Texas A&M Forest Service, with Texans living closer to wooded areas, Smokey’s message is as crucial as ever. Although he’s turning 75, there is no retirement in sight.
“We’re really excited about this milestone, so we wanted to throw something big to really bring attention to wildfire prevention,” Reid said. “It’s important that the next generation of Texans get involved and really understand the importance of wildfire prevention.”
The highlight of the event is the official “Friends of Smokey Bear” hot air balloon that will be traveling from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Texas for the second time. Texas A&M Forest Service Wildfire Mitigation and Prevention Program Leader Karen Stafford said this marks the second time the balloon has travelled to Texas with the first time being in 2011 in Highland Village, Texas.
“Since Texas A&M Forest Service is one of eight state agencies under the Texas A&M University System, our headquarters are in College Station, which is why we wanted to throw the largest party in the state as the grand finale for Smokey’s 75th here,” Stafford said. “We wanted to do something big to celebrate such a significant milestone for Smokey Bear, so we invited the Friends of Smokey Bear Hot Air Balloon to College Station.”
According to Stafford, the event is at a max capacity for volunteers due to the huge number of people who jumped at the opportunity. Forestry and ecological restoration senior Dayziah Petruska will be volunteering through the Society for Ecological Restoration and said this event is very important for promoting fire safety in the community.
“I wanted to get involved because land stewardship is very important,” Petruska said. “With everything going on between climate change and land mismanagement, if you don’t get the public educated, they don’t care about these issues.”
According to Reid, this event is both a fun day of celebration and a great way to learn about fire safety.
“In Texas, almost nine out of 10 wildfires are human-caused and, therefore, preventable,” Reid said. “The largest number of human-caused wildfires is a result of careless debris burning. With cooler weather headed our way, be careful with campfires.”
For more information on how to prevent wildfires and Smokey Bear’s 75th Birthday Bash, visit https://tfsweb.tamu.edu/PreventWildfire/.