The Oregon Department of Forestry, the U.S. Forest Service, and Keep Oregon Green said the Smokey Bear Balloon will be part of the Grants Pass Balloon and Kite Festival. Through a coordinated effort, it will be available for viewing at the festival, taking place on the first weekend of June, according to a press release from the agencies..
The balloon is an Aerostar SP-1, originally designed and built in 1987 by a group made up of public and private volunteers, private sponsors, and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). The balloon is owned and operated by the non-profit corporation 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.”
This is a special year for Smokey Bear, celebrating his 75th birthday on Aug. 9 and three-quarters of a century promoting fire prevention. Along with the balloon, Smokey himself will be on hand to take pictures.
The Grants Pass Balloon and Kite Festival is May 31–June 2. For more information, visit their website http://gpballoonfest.com/.