On Saturday we celebrated Smokey Bear's 69th birthday. For those of you who have been reading this blog from the beginning know that we were here last year at this time to celebrate his birthday also. It was a great time and we had games for the kids, face painting, prizes, and cake. I am sure most, if not all of you know the story and history of Smokey. However, if not here is a little information to refresh your memories.
One spring day in 1950 in the Capitan Mountains of New Mexico, an operator in one of the fire towers to the north of the Capitans spotted smoke and called the location into the nearest ranger station. The first crew discovered a major fire being swept along the ground between the trees, driven by a strong wind. Word spread rapidly and more crews reported to help. Forest Rangers, army soldiers, Native American crews, men from the New Mexico State Game Department, and civilian volunteers worked together to gain control of the raging fire. As soon as they contained the fire to one spot, the wind would push it across the lines. During one of the lulls in firefighting, a report of a lonely bear cub who had been seen wandering near the fireline was reported. The men left him alone because they thought the mother bear might come for him.
Nearby, the little cub had been caught in the path of the same fire and had not fared as well. He had taken refuge in a tree that was now completely charred. His climb had saved his life but left him badly burned on the paws and hind legs. The soldiers removed the little bear cub from the burned tree, but they did not know what to do with him. A rancher, who had been helping the firefighters, agreed to take the cub home. A New Mexico Department of Game and Fish Ranger heard about the cub when he returned to the fire camp and drove to the rancher's home to get the bear. The cub needed veterinary aid and was flown in a small plane to Santa Fe where the burns were treated and bandaged.
The news about the little bear spread swiftly throughout New Mexico. Soon the United Press and Associated Press picked up the story and broadcast it nationwide. Many people wrote or called to inquire about the little bear's progress. The State Game Warden wrote an official letter to the Chief of the Forest Service, presenting the cub to the agency with the understanding that the small bear would be dedicated to a publicity program of fire prevention and conservation. The go-ahead was given to send the bear to Washington, DC, where he found a home at the National Zoo, becoming the living symbol of Smokey Bear.
I think that is such a neat story and hope you all enjoyed it.
Now on to the festivities.....
This year we had a new activity, bubbles. Karl and Vickie put the event together and came up with some great ideas. Here is one way to play with bubbles...
This year I did the face painting again. But I had a great helper and two is faster than one. My partner in crime was Mickey, Asst manager here at the park. She did a great job and darn it she paints a lot better bear claw than I do. And I even had practice from last year. :(
Here are 4 of the designs we did. We let the kids pick out the designs and colors they wanted.
Even the adults got into the fun. Here is Al, Manager of the park. He had this passion for being an Indian. Either that or he wanted to scare the campers when he made his evening drive through of the park. :)
This is Bill, he was playing with a little boy who had gotten a balloon sword. Bill got his jabbed into his head.
Now onto the star of the afternoon......
Then he got a whiff of the cake and we had to hold him back.....
Smokey even got his face painted by Mickey. I didn't see the finished picture but I think it was a bear claw. :)
The kids really enjoyed having their picture taken with him. One little girl was scared of him but she did give him a high five.
And the audience.....
Sorry I can't share the cake with you or the popcorn but I hoped you enjoyed the party just the same.
So from Hardin Ridge we send out a Grrrrreat big good night and take care everyone.