Monday November 30th, 2015 7:27PM

Smokey Bear turns 70, but don't bring candles

By The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Smokey Bear is turning 70 on Saturday - but don't bring any candles to the party, please.<br /> <br /> As the friendly, huggable bear with the brimmed hat and shovel enters his golden years, he's burning up Twitter. But his message of fire prevention through personal responsibility hasn't changed much.<br /> <br /> Here are some little-known facts about Smokey Bear on his big day.<br /> <br /> STAYING POWER: Smokey Bear was created in 1944 because of fears that America's enemies would set forest fires while most U.S. firefighters were in battle overseas. When the war ended, Smokey stuck around - and he's now at the center of the longest-running public service announcement campaign in U.S. history. Research shows he is known by 96 percent of American adults and ranks near Mickey Mouse and Santa Claus for name recognition. His creation was a collaboration of the U.S. Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters and the Ad Council.<br /> <br /> A SOCIAL ANIMAL: Smokey's image has evolved over the decades to fit the latest media technology. When he first debuted, TV was in its infancy and posters were hand-drawn. Now, Smokey is a social media connoisseur and prolific blogger, with accounts on Facebook, Twitter ((at)Smokey-Bear), Instagram, YouTube and Flickr. He has more than 300,000 friends on Facebook and 24,000 people follow him on Twitter. Fans can sign a virtual card and upload photos at . People still like to write to Smokey the old-fashioned way, too. The imaginary bear got his own ZIP code (20252) in 1952 as his popularity soared and it was reactivated this summer.<br /> <br /> A QUIET BEAR: Smokey traditionally never spoke in his public service messages except for his signature line (Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires). Now, social media has given him a new outlet - and he's chatty. "It turns out he does have a voice and it's very clever," said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. Still, Smokey's message is sometimes best relayed through silence. A series of YouTube videos created around his 70th birthday show Smokey giving silent bear hugs ((hash)SmokeyBearHug) to campers who properly build and extinguish camp fires and safely dispose of used barbeque charcoal, among other things.<br /> <br /> WHAT'S IN A NAME: Most people know the finger-pointing fire-safety fanatic as Smokey THE Bear, but in fact there is no "the" in the original name. In 1952, Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins wrote a song in his honor and added a "the" between "Smokey" and "Bear" to keep the rhythm flowing.<br /> <br /> A BEAR IN THE CITY: In 2001, Smokey's public relations team changed his classic line to the more updated phrase, Only You Can Prevent Wildfires and revamped the campaign to address the growing threat of devastating wildfires in suburban and urban areas. Smokey hit the cities with a three-year "refreshed" campaign targeting casual adult hikers, bikers and campers and those living in urban areas adjacent to forest land.<br /> <br /> THE `REAL' SMOKEY: Smokey Bear's nascent ad campaign got a boost in 1950 when a real bear cub that had been rescued from a New Mexico wildfire was nursed back to health and sent to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., as the living Smokey.<br /> <br /> THE VOICE: Actor Sam Elliott, known for playing the bowling alley-narrator in "The Big Lebowski" and supporting roles in movies like "Up in the Air" and "Mask," has served as the latest voice for Smokey. Both share the same "birthday." Elliott, the son of a Fish and Wildlife official, also turns 70 on Saturday.
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 10 months ago )
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 10 months ago )
Sheriff: Man shot 2 on I-85 because he wanted car
A 22-year-old man shot two people who stopped to give him a ride on Interstate 85 in South Carolina on Christmas Eve because he wanted their car to drive to Georgia, a sheriff said Wednesday.
5:21PM ( 10 months ago )
Local/State News
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 10 months ago )
Palestinians push ahead in pursuit of war crimes charges against Israel
Stung by a resounding defeat in the U.N. Security Council, the Palestinians announced Wednesday that they joined the International Criminal Court to pursue war crimes charges against Israel.
1:57PM ( 10 months ago )
KKK group to keep fighting to join road cleanup program in NE Ga.
A Georgia Ku Klux Klan group says it will move forward with its application for a highway cleanup program in northeast Georgia after a judge ruled the state's denial violated the organization's right to free speech.
12:24PM ( 10 months ago )
U.S. News
Retailers roll out online deals for Cyber Monday, expected to rack up over $3 billion in sales
NEW YORK (AP) — Shoppers traded bricks for clicks on Monday, flocking online to snap up "Cyber Monday" deals on everything from cashmere sweaters to Star Wars toys.Now that shoppers are online all the...
7:02PM ( 25 minutes ago )
Early signs of weak holiday spending send retail stocks lower as traders return from holiday
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed modestly lower on Monday, as traders returned from the Thanksgiving holiday to focus on the early signs of how the holiday shopping season may turn out and where interest...
4:36PM ( 2 hours ago )
Longtime Habersham County Clerk of Court Ernest Nations to be remembered
Longtime former Habersham County Clerk of Court Ernest Nations Jr. died Sunday, Nov. 29, following an extended illness.
3:52PM ( 3 hours ago )
Hall deputies arrest Nov. 21 chase suspect
A Gainesville man wanted for allegedly sideswiping a patrol car on Highway 365 a week ago was arrested over the weekend.
3:06PM ( 4 hours ago )
McCarthy predicts no shutdown over Planned Parenthood as deadline looms for big spending bill
WASHINGTON (AP) — A top House leader predicted Monday that Washington will avoid stumbling into a government shutdown next week over a tea party-backed drive to take away Planned Parenthood's funding....
2:49PM ( 4 hours ago )