Special tribute to Smokey Bear by New Jersey Forest Fire Service

Smokey Bear video New Jersey
Screenshot from the New Jersey Forest Fire Service video below.

As part of the celebration of the 75th year of the Smokey Bear wildfire prevention campaign, the New Jersey Forest Fire Service produced this video tribute.

Smokey is reminiscing about old times until the video switches to present day halfway though when he is called out to a wildfire. The video is set to the song “Nostalgic” by the New Jersey based band A R I Z O N A.

The video showcases many notable locations throughout the state including Mt. Tammany, Storybook Land, and the Statue of Liberty.

Happy 75th birthday, Smokey

Smokey Bear first poster
The first appearance of Smokey Bear on a poster, created by Albert Staehl.

Today, August 9, 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of the Smokey Bear public service campaign, the longest-running public service advertising campaign in U.S. history, educating generations of Americans about their role in preventing wildfires.

The campaign started during World War II. After a Japanese submarine surfaced near the coast of Santa Barbara firing shells that exploded on an oil field near the Los Padres National Forest, and Japanese balloons dropped incendiary devices that started a few fires and killed six citizens in Oregon, the government figured that with fires being ignited by Japan, they needed to reduce the number of preventable human-caused fires.

For the first six years Smokey Bear was just an icon, an image. The first real representative of the Bear came in 1950 when a bear cub was found clinging to a burned tree in a forest fire in the Capitan Mountains of New Mexico. Firefighters rescued the cub, which had badly burned paws and hind legs, and he was flown to Santa Fe for treatment. The story became national news and the bear was given a home in the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., becoming the living symbol of Smokey Bear.

Smokey Bear On Plane
Smokey cub on a Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser. Photo: smokeybear.com

Smokey received numerous gifts of honey and so many letters he had to have his own zip code. He remained at the zoo until his death in 1976, when he was returned to his home to be buried at the Smokey Bear Historical Park in Capitan, New Mexico, where he continues to be a wildfire prevention legend.

In 1952, Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins wrote the popular anthem that would launch a continuous debate about Smokey’s name. To maintain the rhythm of the song, they added “the” between “Smokey” and “Bear.” Due to the song’s popularity, Smokey Bear has been called “Smokey the Bear” by many adoring fans, but, in actuality, his name never changed. He’s still Smokey Bear.

Smokey Bear

New Smokey Bear exhibit at National Zoo

Smokey Bear exhibit National Zoo
The new Smokey Bear exhibit at the National Zoo opened today, May 23, 2019. US Forest Service photo.

In memory of the very real Smokey Bear who lived at the National Zoo until the 1970s, the zoo is honoring Smokey with an exhibit for his 75th Birthday. Called the Smokey Bear Zone, it’s now open and free to the public.

The exhibit opened today at Smithsonian’s National Zoo with an invitation for visitors to look back at the legacy of one of the most famous residents in the Zoo’s 130-year history. A public celebration at 10 a.m. followed brief remarks and a ceremonial ribbon cutting. Visitors to the Smokey Bear exhibit had an opportunity to meet Smokey Bear and members of the U.S. Forest Service. They were given free flags, magnets and other giveaways, courtesy of the Forest Service, which is commemorating 75 years of the Smokey Bear Wildfire Prevention campaign.

The “real” Smokey Bear was rescued from a forest fire in New Mexico and lived at the Zoo from 1950 to 1976. As visitors stroll through the exhibit, they will see the rich stories of Smokey Bear the character and Smokey Bear the Zoo resident take shape. Archival photographs and 14 colorful posters line the pathway in front of Smokey Bear’s former habitat, teaching visitors about his legacy as an ambassador for wildfire prevention and wildlife conservation. Complementing this outdoor gallery are bilingual panels in English and Spanish highlighting the real Smokey Bear’s story and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s forest ecology research. The exhibit was made possible by the Forest Service.

Smokey Bear exhibit National Zoo
The opening ceremony for the Smokey Bear exhibit at the National Zoo, May 23, 2019. National Association of State Foresters photo.

Steven Colbert as Smokey Bear

And, Jeff Foxworthy

Okay. I guess random famous people providing Smokey Bear’s voice is the new normal. Last month it was Al Roker. Now it’s Steven Colbert.

And then there was Jeff Foxworthy.

Of course it is great that these well-known names are getting involved in wildfire prevention.

Washington’s Commissioner of Public Lands dances with Smokey Bear

Smokey Bear Hilary Franz
Smokey Bear and Hilary Franz, Washington State’s Commissioner of Public Lands, in a screengrab from the video below.

Smokey Bear and Hilary Franz, Washington State’s Commissioner of Public Lands, filmed a fire prevention public service announcement with Smokey Bear.