Celebrate Smokey Bear’s birthday at sunrise with the Smokey Bear Hot Air Balloon

August 7, 2019

Celebrate Smokey Bear’s birthday at sunrise with the Smokey Bear Hot Air Balloon

Smokey Bear turns 75 on August 9; partners invite everyone to celebrate

MISSOULA, MT – For one day only, Smokey Bear will be 97 feet tall to spread the message of wildfire prevention for all of Missoula to see. All are welcome to attend a 75th birthday sunrise celebration for Smokey Bear on August 9 beginning at 6:30 am at Stegner Field at Sentinel High School. The Smokey Bear Balloon is owned by a non-profit corporation dedicated to assisting federal, state and local agencies with wildfire prevention education.

On August 9, everyone is welcome to come see the balloon, take photos in the basket, and enjoy time with Smokey Bear and wildland firefighters from the Lolo National Forest, Montana Department of Natural Resources, and Bureau of Land Management. All who attend are encouraged to participate in a #SingForSmokey happy birthday song at 8 a.m. along with sharing of birthday treats and Smokey Bear goodies.

Smokey Bear was born on Aug. 9, 1944, when the U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council agreed that a fictional bear would be the symbol for their joint effort to promote wildfire prevention. The living symbol of Smokey Bear was a five-pound, three month old American black bear cub who was found in the spring of 1950 after the Capitan Gap fire, a wildfire that burned in the Capitan Mountains of New Mexico. Since that time, Smokey Bear’s message and symbol has protected America's forests from unwanted, human-caused fire. Smokey – one of the most-loved ambassadors of our time – and his signature phrase, “Only you can prevent wildfires,” is truly iconic. Smokey Bear is at the heart of the longest-running public service campaign in American history.

Event Details:

  • Location: Stegner Field at Sentinel High School
  • Parking: Fairgrounds, Playfair Park or western parking of Sentinel High School
  • Time: 6:30 a.m.- 9 a.m.

Balloon Facts:

  • The balloon holds 145,000 cubic feet of air
  • It is 97 feet tall (including the basket)
  • The diameter at the hat brim is 72 feet
  • The total balloon weight is 1,130 pounds


The Smokey Bear Balloon Sunrise Birthday event was made possible by these partner agencies:

Lolo National Forest, Montana Department of Natural Resources, Bureau of Land Management, Missoula County Fire Protection Association (MCFPA).