Only You Can …

QUAKER RUN – Allegany State Park will host “Smokey Bear’s 70th Birthday Bash” on Saturday at the Quaker Amphitheater.

The facility is located on the Quaker side of the park along ASP Route 3, approximately 8.4 miles from Interstate 86, exit 18.

The free event, which will be attended by Smokey Bear himself, will run from 7-11 p.m. There will be musical entertainment from 7-9 p.m. and cash drawings will be held at 9 p.m., followed by a Disney movie called “Spooky Buddies.” Free hot dogs and popsicles will be offered, along with free Smokey Bear hats, and free coloring books and crayons for the kids. Smokey Bear T-shirts and pop will be available for sale.

Although the event is free, $10 donation tickets will be offered if anyone wants a chance for the cash drawings. Ticket holders will have 24 chances to win on a $10 ticket.

Sally Marsh, Hootenanny coordinator, said the event started out as a fundraiser to recoup the cost of a projector and sound system, which was purchased to bring back the Friday night movies at the amphitheater, and they’ve been using the equipment all summer.

“We tried to think of a fun way to raise money for the equipment and we got the idea of the birthday bash,” she said. “Instead of asking people for money, we decided on an event with a theme.”

Marsh said after doing the Guinness World Record family event last August, they tried to come up with another family event to wrap up the summer season this year. Smokey’s birthday came up, which they decided to incorporate into a fundraiser.

“We started out by selling $10 raffle tickets for cash drawings, but that was a small part of the idea. The biggest goal was to celebrate the history of Smokey Bear,” she said.

Smokey, who officially turned 70 years old on Aug. 9, began his career in 1944 with the slogan, “Only you can prevent forest fires.” According to New York State Conservationist magazine, Smokey is the emblematic image that fronts the longest-running public service announcement in U.S. history. His image was created in collaboration of the U.S. Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters and the Ad Council. Smokey ranks near Mickey Mouse and Santa Claus for name recognition.

Marsh said Smokey Bear will be at his own birthday party on Saturday night. To add to the fun, she encourages attendees to come to Smokey Bear’s Birthday Bash dressed as their favorite bear.

“People should just come and have a fun night to finish off the summer season,” she said. “Let’s celebrate Smokey’s birthday and bringing back the Friday night movies at the amphitheater.”

Marsh has been holding weekly hootenannies at Allegany State Park for 43 years now. She says the secret to the successful longevity of the hootenannies is it’s a family event that everyone loves. Last August, the songstress organized a hootenanny involving 375 participants to break the Guinness World Record for the “Most People Singing ‘Old MacDonald Had a Farm'” at one time. The hootenanny was a success and set the new world record. The proceeds from last year’s Guinness event enabled them to purchase a different type of projector system, specifically for sing-alongs.

For more information, go to facebook.com/AlleganyStateParkHootenanny.