Western Queens Gazette, August 1st, 2014
Smokey Bear is turning 70 this year and there is no better way to celebrate than with a fun-filled day of environmental activities during the 11th annual Smokey Bear Birthday Bash, hosted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) on Saturday, August 9, from noon until 3 p.m. at Alley Pond Park in Oakland Gardens.
“Join us for games and hands-on activities focused on environmental awareness, camping and fire safety at this year’s Smokey Bear Birthday Bash,” said Venetia Lannon, regional director of DEC’s New York City office. “We are excited to bring the event to a new neighborhood and give families the opportunity to experience live animal demonstrations, a forest ranger obstacle course and a nature scavenger hunt. This year’s event will also feature a poster contest where the grand prize winner will receive a basket of tools to explore nature.”
DEC is partnering with community organizations to present a wide range of activities for families and visitors of all ages to enjoy. The community partners include Alley Pond Environmental Center, The NYC Compost Project hosted by Queens Botanical Garden and Student Conservation Association. Additional highlights of the event include learning about composting, taking a guided nature hike, crafts and a camping demonstration.
For 70 years, Smokey Bear has educated school children and the public about careless actions by people that start wildfires. The United States Forest Service’s wildfire prevention campaign starring Smokey Bear started on Aug. 9, 1944, with the familiar slogan, “Only you can prevent forest fires.” In 1950, a bear cub was rescued by firefighters battling a wildfire in New Mexico. Once he had been nursed back to health, this bear became the embodiment of Smokey Bear and lived at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., where he served as the living symbol of the educational effort to prevent wildfires.
The event will take place at the 76th Avenue entrance to Alley Pond Park. There is a parking lot along 76th Avenue, between Springfield Boulevard and 226th Street. If traveling by public transportation, take the Q46, Q88, or QM5 bus lines.