Smokey Bear, fire prevention icon in US, to turn 75

BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK, UT - AUGUST 13: An image of Smokey Bear is attached to a sign alerting motorists about current fire danger conditions as part of the Smokey Bear Wildfire Prevention campaign on August 13, 2016 just outside Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

CAPITAN, N.M. (AP) — Smokey Bear, the icon of the longest-running public service campaign in the U.S., is set to turn 75 years old.

Birthday parties are scheduled to take place this week in honor of the bear used to promote forest fire prevention.

Smokey Bear was born on Aug. 9, 1944, when the U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council agreed that a fictional bear would be the symbol for a fire prevention campaign.

A badly burned cub found in the aftermath of a fire in New Mexico’s Capitan Mountains later became Smokey Bear.

The Gila National Forest in Silver, New Mexico, and Wingfield Park in Ruidoso will hold community birthday parties for the bear.

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Birthday parties also are scheduled in Reading, Pennsylvania, and Entiat, Washington.