Smokey Bear’s 73rd celebrated at Fort Vancouver

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VANCOUVER – The Forest Service and Friends of Fort Vancouver will hold a birthday party for Smokey Bear on Aug. 12, as the fire safety icon turns 73.

The free event will begin at 1 p.m. at the Fort Vancouver Visitor Center, 1501 E. Evergreen Blvd., where the Gifford Pinchot National Forest shares an information desk with the National Park Service.

A short film about the return of life to Mount St. Helens, a part of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, will be shown in the Visitor Center theater. Smokey Bear-themed items will also be for sale in the Friends of Fort Vancouver bookstore. The Friends will provide cake and lemonade as part of the celebration. Smokey Bear will also be take part.

The real Smokey was saved in a wildfire in New Mexico and was first called “Hotfoot Teddy,” according to a news release. His paws were badly burned when he clung to a smoking, burned-out tree. Since then, Smokey has been promoting fire safety in our public lands for decades.

“We love these public interactions with the community, especially young people, as they represent our future,” said Zach Teel, Gifford Pinchot visitors service information assistant. “It’s important to promote fire safety as well as a general forest ethic in kids, and especially to make it fun and engaging.”