Celebrate Smokey Bear's 75th birthday at the Mackinac Bridge Aug. 9

Contact: Kathleen Lavey, 517-284-5852
Agency: Natural Resources

Aug. 1, 2019

America’s longest-running PSA campaign hits diamond anniversary

Smokey Bear waving from atop the Mackinac Bridge in the Straits of Mackinac, blue sky in the backgroundSmokey Bear’s 75-year legacy of promoting safe, responsible enjoyment of the nation's forests will be celebrated by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and other partners Friday, Aug. 9, at the Straits of Mackinac.


Fire prevention staff will be joined by Smokey Bear for a family-friendly birthday party from 1 to 3 p.m. at Straits State Park in St. Ignace. The party will feature a fire truck open house, wildland fire equipment on display, fire-prevention games, refreshments and a chance to meet Smokey Bear.

“For 75 years, Smokey Bear has gently reminded us that it’s easy to take simple actions that go a long way toward protecting the places we love,” said Debbie Begalle, state forester and chief of the DNR Forest Resources Division.

Smokey Bear has shared fire-prevention messages for generations with the signature phrase, “Only you can prevent wildfires.” Begalle said that the message first rolled out in 1944 is still relevant today; nine out of 10 wildfires are started by people, and responsible practices can prevent unwanted fires.

Learn more about the DNR’s efforts to spread Smokey’s fire-safety message in this short video, “Wildfires are a Scary Thing” – set to the tune of Johnny Cash’s song, “Ring of Fire.” It’s part of a friendly challenge to find creative ways to celebrate Smokey Bear’s 75th anniversary year.

For more information about fire prevention and safety, visit Michigan.gov/FireManagement.