Smokey’s 74th birthday recognized this week

CADILLAC – America’s favorite wildfire prevention bear is turning 74 this week, but this milestone is not without a celebration or two planned for the local area.

The Huron-Manistee National Forests and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources will celebrate the iconic bear’s birthday with a public Safety Day at 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 9 at the Carl T Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center on M-115 in Cadillac.

Representatives from several agencies will be on hand to talk to the public about their roles in public safety. These agencies include the Michigan State Police, the Wexford County Sherriff’s Department, the Cadillac Fire and Police Departments, Michigan Search and Rescue, North Flight, the USDA Forest Service and the Michigan Department of Natural Resource Forestry and Law Enforcement Divisions.

A wildland firefighter will demonstrate how to properly build and extinguish a campfire while providing for safety first. Learn the difference between the roles of a structural and a wildland firefighter as they respond to wildfires and the tools they use. Try on their personal protection equipment and learn how their gear protects them from fire.

The Cadillac Fire department will be bringing their smokehouse to help children understand the importance of proper evacuation during a structure fire.

Then at 3:30 p.m., campground hosts at American Land and Leisure will hold a Smokey Bear birthday party at the Lake Michigan Recreation Area campground amphitheater as part of their Junior Ranger series for families.

The Lake Michigan Recreation Area is located in Mason County along the shores of Lake Michigan, just south of Manistee.

Smokey Bear will oversee both events giving everyone a chance to capture a selfie and be part of America’s wildfire prevention icon’s annual campaign. Light refreshments will be served at both events which include singing happy birthday.

Smokey Bear is one of America’s oldest icons promoting wildfire and campfire safety since the mid-1940s. His rich history of fire prevention started during World War II with forest fires and has been adapted to be more specific to wildfires and wildland urban interface communities. Annually, millions of acres are lost to wildfires from human-caused fires such as debris burning and abandoned campfires.

For more information on the Forests is available at www.fs.usda.gov/hmnf.

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