Smokey Bear turns 69 years old

Grand Mesa, Colo. (KKCO) --- America's fire safety icon, Smokey Bear, turned 69 Thursday.

People celebrated the occasion at the Grand Mesa Visitor Center with cake, educational activities and lots of pictures with Smokey and his friend Woodsy Owl.

Smokey might be getting older, but his message remains the same: "Only you can prevent forest fires."

"When you just drop a cigarette butt or things like that where it's just a man-made fire, there's no control," said Mackette McCormack, a receptionist for the Grand Mesa Visitor Center. "Nature's not letting it regulate itself as well. You're in control suddenly."

The Ad Council first published Smokey Bear and his message on August 9, 1944.

In 1950, he became a real live mascot after fire fighters rescued a bear from a wildfire in Lincoln National Forest in New Mexico.

"They healed him and since that he was really domesticated," McCormack said. "He couldn't just go back out into the woods, so they ended up making him the mascot for what it represents and what you lose when there are forest fires."


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