MADISON, Wis. (WMTV)-- For 75 years, Smokey Bear has taught millions of Americans about their role in preventing wildfires.
On Aug. 9, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is celebrating Smokey and his timeless message, "Only you can prevent wildfires."
"Smokey Bear ranks right up there behind Santa Claus and Mickey Mouse," says Catherine Koele, DNR wildfire prevention specialist. "Many of us remember Smokey from our childhoods. We'd see him in parades, on posters, in magazines or occasionally in TV commercials.If we were lucky enough, maybe he'd stop by the classroom and teach us about fire safety."
To honor and observe the event, Governor Tony Evers named Aug. 9, 2019 "Smokey Bear's 75th Birthday" recognizing the bear's contribution to education, health, and safety for all Wisconsinites.
Throughout his birthday year, Smokey will be giving back to communities across Wisconsin. The DNR is partnering with the non-profit organization Box of Balloons to support fire prevention and the mission to make a child's birthday happy, celebrated and memorable.
On August 10, Mirror Lake State Park is having a party with games, goodie bags and a reading of the "True Story of Smokey Bear." To find other Smokey Bear events at Wisconsin state parks and forests, you can click here.
In 2018, 89% of wildfires in the United States were caused by people.