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Smokey the Bear: An icon turns 70

Smokey the Bear gives Carson Erickson, 5, a hug while Mason Erickson, 7, approaches. Malachi Petersen | Bemidji Pioneer1 / 2
Attendees at the 70th birthday of Smokey the Bear inspect a Canadair CL-215 Water Bomber at the Bemidji tanker base Saturday morning. Malachi Petersen | Bemidji Pioneer2 / 2

BEMIDJI-- The beloved fire prevention icon Smokey the Bear turned 70 on Saturday.

Community members of all ages attended a birthday party hosted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at the Bemidji Air Tanker Base.

Festivities included games and prizes, a water drop demonstration, an appearance by Smokey the Bear, and opportunities to interact with Beltrami County safety officials.

According to head organizer Lee Schaar flights with the Experimental Aircraft Association were planned for the day but were cancelled due to bad weather.

"The weather isn't quite conducive to that today," Shaar said.

The skies may have been overcast but that didn't stop more than 50 people from turning out for the event.

Kaila Abel said her husband Scott is a firefighter for the DNR and their son Wyatt, 3, was the main reason the family came to the celebration.

"He loves firetrucks and is always talking about firefighting so we just thought it was a great family opportunity to come out and actually see things and to be a part of it."

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