GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Smokey Bear will be taking to the sky this year as part of the Grants Pass Balloon & Kit Festival, thanks to a partnership between the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), and Keep Oregon Green.
It's more than just another outing for the venerable forester — Smokey Bear turns 75 on August 9 of this year, and forestry officials are celebrating three-quarters of a century promoting fire prevention alongside him.
"Along with the balloon, Smokey himself will be on hand to take pictures with as well," ODF said in a statement.
The Smokey balloon is an Aerostar SP-1 that was designed and built in 1987 by a group of public volunteers, private sponsors, and USFS employees. It is owned and operated by the nonprofit Friends of Smokey Bear.
“Friends of the Smokey Bear Balloon, Inc. is a non-profit corporation of volunteers dedicated to assisting federal, state and local agencies to educate and convey messages to prevent human-caused wildfires,” Gwen Wynn said. “We also stimulate active support from schools, local fire departments, businesses, industries, civic club, and groups of persons interested in protecting America’s natural resources.”
The Grants Pass Balloon and Kite Festival takes place May 31 through June 2. For more information, you can visit their website.