BUFFALO — The Buffalo branch of the Putnam County Library threw Smokey the Bear a surprise birthday party on Wednesday, July 24, as the friend of the forest turns 75.

The Smokey Bear Wildfire Prevention campaign, created in 1944, is the longest-running public service advertising campaign in U.S. history, according to Smokey's official website. He was created to help educate generations of Americans about their role in preventing wildfires.

As one of the world's most recognizable characters, Smokey's image is protected by U.S. federal law and is administered by the USDA Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters and the Ad Council.

Smokey's original catchphrase was "Smokey Says - Care Will Prevent 9 out of 10 Forest Fires." In 1947, it became "Remember... Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires." In 2001, it was again updated to its current version of "Only You Can Prevent Wildfires" in response to a massive outbreak of wildfires in natural areas other than forests and to clarify that Smokey is promoting the prevention of unwanted and unplanned outdoor fires versus prescribed fires.

Smokey has an interesting history that began during World War II. Read all about it at www.smokeybear.com, where you can also find helpful materials for explaining fire safety to youngsters, along with some fun children's activities and more.

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