Happy Birthday to Smokey Bear! Smokey is celebrating his 65th birthday this week around the Independence Day holiday. A series of public service announcements will air this week urging safety by those lighting campfires, barbecuing and setting off fireworks around the holiday.
Smokey has been a recognized symbol for conservation and the protection of America's forests since his "birth" in 1944. The Ad Council estimates that his message has helped to reduce the number of acres burned annually by wildfires by about 22 million in 1944 to an average 7 million today. The Council also notes that Smokey is second only to Mickey Mouse and Santa Claus as a recognizable figure in the U.S.