Smokey Bear To Be A Guest At Wellington’s Earth Day Event

Outdoor icon Smokey Bear turns 75 this year, and as part of the year-long commemoration, he is appearing at the free Earth Day & Arbor Day Celebration at the Wellington Amphitheater on Saturday, April 27 from 4 to 7 p.m. The observance will be immediately followed by a Heart tribute concert featuring Love Alive.

Outdoor icon Smokey Bear turns 75 this year, and as part of the year-long commemoration, he is appearing at the free Earth Day & Arbor Day Celebration at the Wellington Amphitheater on Saturday, April 27 from 4 to 7 p.m. The observance will be immediately followed by a Heart tribute concert featuring Love Alive.

“Provided he isn’t called away to a fire, Smokey Bear will be at the event, courtesy of the Forestry Service,” said event organizer Michelle Garvey, Wellington’s assistant parks and recreation director.

Garvey explained that the kids enjoy meeting the costumed character, who will help the children and the Wellington Village Council plant a tree on the grounds in honor of Arbor Day.

“The celebration begins with proclamations about Earth Day and Arbor Day by the council, who will be planting the commemorative tree with the help of Smokey Bear and the children,” she said.

The full afternoon of fun and learning features more than 20 local vendors with earth-friendly products, favorite food trucks and more.

“We partner with the Public Works Department, the Wellington Tree Board, the Wellington Garden Club and the Wellington Art Society, which will be selling nature-related items,” Garvey said. “The Tree Board and the Garden Club [members] will be giving away free seedlings and providing information on proper pruning techniques, composting and just sharing their extensive knowledge with the community.”

In addition to the free seedlings and other giveaways, there will be plenty of advice from experts and demonstrations of proper techniques. There is even a chance to win a tree in a 15-gallon container that is ready to transplant into some lucky, free-raffle winner’s yard to provide shade in just a few years.

Children will have a bevy of kids’ activities to enjoy, including face painting, a coloring mural, learning about recycling and respecting the earth, plus the opportunity to meet the longest-running public service trade character in U.S. history.

Born by the hand of graphic artist Albert Staehle on Aug. 9, 1944, Smokey Bear was a commission by the USDA Forest Service and the Ad Council. Conceived as painted artwork of a fictional bear named Smokey, the character would become the symbol for forest fire prevention for generations. Smokey worked with Bambi and other Disney characters on a poster when he was less than a year old.

A popular anthem a decade later by Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins seemed to give Smokey the middle name “The” to fit the rhythmic lyrics of the song.

“But the name has always been Smokey Bear,” Garvey noted.

It is a moniker that has been used for a live baby cub who grew to adulthood and lived a long bear-life as a celebrity during an extended publicity campaign. Today, with wildfire prevention remaining a critical issue, that real-life Smokey is remembered at his burial place in his original home of Capitan, N.M., in Smokey Bear Historical Park. Kids and their parents can write Smokey Bear a letter and receive a response at Smokey Bear, Washington, D.C. 20252.

Garvey explained that the tree to be planted is a Shady Lady black olive tree. The tree won’t get to be huge, growing in layered tiers with a distinct space between each set of horizontal branches. Not related to olive-bearing trees, the Wellington tree will mature to form a well-shaped rounded crown and, in time, will be frosted yellow-beige with a covering of tiny, springtime blooms. As they too grow, the participating children will remember the day they helped plant it.

The Wellington Earth Day & Arbor Day Celebration is a full afternoon and evening of family-friendly activities at the Wellington Amphitheater, located at 12100 W. Forest Hill Blvd. Attendees remaining for the concert are encouraged to bring their own seating, and everyone is reminded not to park in the nearby shopping center. Find out more about the event at www.wellingtonfl.gov/events.

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