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For Release: Friday, August 5, 2016

Celebrate Smokey Bear's 72nd Birthday

Held at Gantry Plaza State Park, Hudson River Park, and Prospect Park

Smokey Bear is turning 72 this year and there is no better way to celebrate than with pop-up birthday parties, hosted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's New York City Office on August 6, 2016 at Gantry Plaza State Park, Hudson River Park and Prospect Park.

"Join us as we celebrate Smokey Bear's birthday with activities that focus on exploring wildlife in New York City," said Stephen Zahn, Acting Regional Director of NYSDEC's NYC office. "We are excited to change the format of this year's event and bring it to three different parks. This gives families the opportunity to meet Smokey Bear and learn about animals that live in NYC. This year's event will also feature a Nature Scavenger Hunt that families can complete in order to win a grand-prize basket filled with tools to explore and learn about nature."

Smokey Bear will be on hand with NYS DEC's Forest Ranger, Russell Martin, as well as environmental educators to spread the word about fire safety and exploring the outdoors. Visitors will be able to explore a variety of animal skulls and furs of mammals that live in NYC including deer, beaver, raccoon, and squirrel in order to learn more about our wild neighbors. Children can also make an Animal Track guide to bring home and take on their next outdoor adventure!

DEC offers a range of free programs for schools and families as well as professional development for classroom teachers and other educators. With a mission of connecting New Yorkers to nature, the environmental education team is available to table at community events, present to groups of any age, and hold nature walks in natural areas. Information about these programs will also be available on Saturday.

For 72 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 August 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 healthy, 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 education effort to prevent wildfires.

Event: Smokey Bear's Pop-up Birthday Parties
When: Saturday, August 6, 2016
Times: 10 a.m. - 11 a.m. Gantry Plaza State Park near the main plaza
1 p.m. - 2 p.m. Hudson River Park near Pier 25
4 p.m. - 5 p.m. Prospect Park near the entrance to the Children's Zoo

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