Forest Service represented in the Rose Parade

The U.S. Forest Service had quite a few representatives in the Rose Parade in Pasadena on New Years Day.

USFS firefighters mules

Their entry was a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, the historic role of packers in supporting wildland firefighters and other backcountry operations, and appreciation of the outstanding contributions made by national forest volunteers.

The all-mule equestrian entry included an entourage of Forest Service Rangers in period uniforms anchored by three mule pack strings. The mule pack strings were guided by California-based U.S. Forest Service packers Michael Morse, Lee Roeser and Ken Graves, who have an average of 37 years of experience each in the saddle.

Forest Service Rose Parade
USFS firefighters hiked the five-mile parade route.
Forest Service Rose Parade
Smokey Bear, USFS Chief Thomas Tidwell, and Regional Forester Randy Moore were photographed riding on a wagon in the parade.
Shawna Lagarza Tom Harbour
Shawna Legarza, the Director of Fire and Aviation for the U.S. Forest Service’s California Region, and Tom Harbour, the Director of Fire and Aviation for the Forest Service, at the Rose Parade, January 1, 2015.

This is something you don’t see every day — wildland fire personnel dressed up in their super-formal uniforms. (These folks are very high ranking of course, but seeing ANY non-headquarters-based U.S. Forest Service employee in a uniform is unusual.) I didn’t know the USFS had the Smokey Bear type hats except for the honor guards you see at funerals. The roses on the hats are a nice touch.

I did not see the parade, but there is a report that during the live broadcast the announcers had a debate about Smokey’s name — “Smokey Bear”, or “Smokey THE Bear”. Here’s the deal. A song written in 1952 celebrated “Smokey the Bear” and stirred a debate that lasted several decades. To maintain the proper rhythm in the song, the writers added “the” to the name, etching “Smokey the Bear” into the public psyche. But his name always was, and still is, Smokey Bear. Unfortunately the Forest Service fueled the confusion by publishing and distributing the words and music to the song in their fire prevention efforts.

All photos are provided by the U.S. Forest Service.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills. Google+

7 thoughts on “Forest Service represented in the Rose Parade”

  1. Well Tom Tidwell and Tom Harbor really look about the same as they did years ago. Nice coverage. Nice Parade.

  2. From what I can gather some participates in this parade entry wore “period” uniforms.

    I own, and occasionally wear, a complete and correct replica 1906 USFS uniform. It includes a campaign hat but without the pine tree shield as worn by Shawna and Tom in the image above.

    I think what we see in the 2015 USFS entry to the Rose Parade is a mixing and modifying of uniforms from different periods.

    Some will say: Hooray for Hollywood!

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