WILLOWS, Calif. - A crowd of mostly parents and children showed up to the Sacramento National Widlife Refuge near Willows on Saturday to pay homage and celebrate the 70th birthday of Smokey Bear.
Smokey Bear has been the longtime mascot of the U.S. Forest Service since he was found as a cub in a New Mexico wildfire in 1944.
Since he was saved from the flames, he's professed to the public ways to prevent forest fires.
On Saturday, crews from the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, CAL FIRE and the Willows Fire Department helped to pass that legacy on to a new generation.
"It's a great opportunity to help share with the public Smokey's message," said Lora Haller,visitor services manager at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. "The message starts with young folks so it's great to get the messages out to the kids on how to properly take care of a campfire and what these different organizations do to keep everyone safe."
Campfires are to blame for many wildfires each year, and children learned how to fully put one out using water and dirt.
They also got the opportunity to meet firefighters face-to-face, use fire hoses, put on firefighter gear and sit in fire trucks and engines.
The event concluded with a rendition of "Happy Birthday to You" and birthday cake.
Smokey Bear stuffed animals and ball caps were also handed out to help kids remember the experience and the lessons learned.