Smokey Bear appeals for letters from Rhode Island kids

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — As one of the United States’ most recognizable bears turns 75 this year, he’s calling upon Rhode Island kids for more than just preventing wildfires.

Smokey Bear, the mascot of the U.S. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters, noted on his social media accounts that in all the years he’s received letters of questions or encouragement from children, he has never once received a letter from a child in Rhode Island.

Now Smokey is asking children in the Ocean State to send him letters. He said, “If you know someone who lives in #RhodeIsland, have them write me a letter.”

Smokey’s address is:

Smokey Bear
Washington, D.C. 20252

The mascot will formally celebrate his 75th birthday on Aug. 9. He took over, in fact, from none other than Walt Disney’s Bambi, who was originally enlisted in 1944 to warn U.S. residents to shun carelessness with fire in wooded areas.

The movie studio’s character was only available for a year, and a new character was needed. The Forest Service says artist Albert Staehle designed the first Smokey poster in 1944, and the rest was history.

For decades, the bear’s slogan was “Only YOU can prevent forest fires.” In 2001, it was formally changed to “Only you can prevent wildfires,” to include areas like grasslands.

Just last week, new public service announcements featuring a computer-animated Smokey were voiced by Stephen Colbert, Al Roker and Jeff Foxworthy for the birthday celebration.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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