Smokey the Bear

Smokey the Bear, shown here greeting fans at a Dunbarton event, will be sharing his 75th birthday with the public in Franconia Notch.

FRANCONIA NOTCH -- Having spent much of the spring and summer sharing his wildfire prevention message across the state, Smokey Bear is gearing up for his New Hampshire birthday party at Franconia Notch State Park.

The celebration will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15.

Attendees can enjoy free tethered rides on the Friends of Smokey Bear hot air balloon (weather permitting), ride the Cannon Mountain tramway, play games, listen to music by the Fiddling Thomsons and, of course, eat some birthday cake. A food vendor will provide barbecue items at a nominal cost.

Smokey Bear began as a print campaign designed by the War Ad Council during World War II, when experienced firefighters were overseas and the public was called upon to help reduce wildfire risks. Expanded over the decades to include outreach through radio, television, internet and more, it remains the longest-running public service advertising campaign in U.S. history.

In recent months, Smokey the Bear has been making appearances at public libraries, the New Hampshire Veterans Home, the New Hampshire Farm and Forest Expo, Discover Wild New Hampshire Day, a New Hampshire Fisher Cats game, several county fairs and old home day festivities to spread the word about preventing wildfires.

Each day in August, the New Hampshire Forest Protection Bureau is posting images of from its Smokey memorabilia collection on its Twitter account, @NHForestRangers, along with the hashtag #NHLovesSmokey. The bureau is asking people to post their own favorite Smokey Bear pictures to social media and to include that same hashtag.

New Hampshire is a leader for the number of events currently listed on the national Smokey Bear 75th birthday website, smokeybear75th.org, with only Texas and Wisconsin listing more scheduled events than the Granite State.

New Hampshire, the second most-forested state in the country, experiences an average of 250 wildfires per year, burning 250 acres. Nationally 90 percent of wildfires are caused by human involvement.

Smokey’s New Hampshire birthday party is sponsored by the New Hampshire Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, the New Hampshire Division of Forests and Lands, the New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation, the Northeastern Forest Fire Protection Commission and the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts.