Smokey Bear, a beloved forest icon, is having another birthday, and the Volunteers of the Angeles National Forest (VANF) invites you to help celebrate his 78th birthday. As is tradition, the VANF will be holding Smokey’s Birthday Party, but for the first time, it will be held at the Big Pines Visitor Center, the grand stone building on Hwy 2 four miles west of Wrightwood. Smokey and his forest service buddies will be there on Saturday, August 5th, from 10 am to 1 pm, along with crafts, tours, cake, and more. Most Americans are familiar with Smokey Bear, the symbol of fire prevention. Many have heard the story of how a tiny cub was saved from a fire in the Lincoln National Forest of New Mexico, whisked off to Washington, D.C., and became the star of a publicity campaign to protect our forests from fires. But how many of you know he wasn’t the original? The prevention campaign was actually created using a cartoon bear character in 1944. It wasn’t until six years later that the live little bear cub survived the Capitan Gap Fire and became the headliner. The USFS considers August 9th, 1944, the day the creation of Smokey Bear was authorized by them, as his official birthday. To this day, the iconic bear – in his signature Forest hat with a shovel at his ready – encourages all to prevent wildfires and conserve wildlife.