TILTON — Smokey the Bear, an American icon spawned by a World War II forest-fire prevention campaign, will stop at the New Hampshire Veterans Home Thursday at 11 a.m. to mark his 75th birthday and maybe have a little cake with the Home’s residents.
Thanks to the New Hampshire Department of Natural & Cultural Resources, four New Hampshire forest rangers who are military veterans will be coming along with Smokey to discuss their experiences fighting fires and to take pictures with the residents, some of whom formerly served as local volunteer firefighters.
The rangers will give a short talk outlining how the Smokey Bear Wildfire Prevention campaign was created in 1944 in the wake of Japanese shelling that threatened to torch U.S. West Coast forests.
The Disney film character Bambi was the campaign’s first symbol before Smokey. And a real bear — a scorched cub rescued after a New Mexico wildfire — became the living symbol in 1950.
The event is free.