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Studying To Play the Part
Bil Gilbert
June 12, 1972
Like many other rich, famous folks, Smokey is treated respectfully and with an air of high seriousness by his associates. For example, a while back at a National Smokey Bear Workshop, a three-day affair held in Atlantic City, James Ricard, fire prevention officer of the state of New Hampshire, gave a presentation on what is expected of anyone who appears in public, in costume, as Smokey. He suggested a number of things, among them:
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June 12, 1972

Studying To Play The Part

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Like many other rich, famous folks, Smokey is treated respectfully and with an air of high seriousness by his associates. For example, a while back at a National Smokey Bear Workshop, a three-day affair held in Atlantic City, James Ricard, fire prevention officer of the state of New Hampshire, gave a presentation on what is expected of anyone who appears in public, in costume, as Smokey. He suggested a number of things, among them:

"Take time to have Smokey properly introduced. This is a very important job that should be handled by an assistant and paves the way to a good, well-received Smokey program.

"Speak plainly and loud enough to be heard by everyone present. It helps to keep your face well up front in the Smokey head—you will find it easier to speak and breathe. It's a lot cooler, too.

"Oftentimes children and adults want to know your name and where you live. My answer has always been: 'My name is Smokey, I live in the wooded hills.' If they still insist, ask them to drop Smokey a note at your home office.

"Costumes shall not be used unless they are clean, complete and in good repair. The blouse should be dry-cleaned. Pants may be laundered. Costumes should be kept under cover before and after use. Smokey's head tucked under a forest officer's arm is a shocking sight to a child and is not to be tolerated. Clowning, horseplay and wisecracks have no place in a Smokey presentation.

"The use of alcoholic beverages by Smokey is out just before or anytime during an appearance.

"Wear rugged, not shiny, shoes, have a shovel for all outdoor shows. Invite children and others to come to you. Never force yourself as Smokey on children or other timid people. If children or others appear frightened, turn away and talk or shake hands with someone else.

"If at all possible try to have a guide or assistant protect you from the dangers of wires, pits, potholes, cars, scooters, carts, very small children, teen-agers, drunks and practical jokers. The guide can do the most effective job by walking ahead and slightly to the side. This enables Smokey to see where he is going and, at the same time, he is better able to hear any directions the guide may wish to give. The assistant, while in the above-mentioned position, has an excellent view and can protect Smokey from the rear. An all-out effort should be made to prohibit anyone from the area directly behind Smokey, particularly in large crowds.

"Never permit anyone to lead you by the hand or otherwise; Smokey leads—others may guide. Remember that you are Smokey the Forest Fire Prevention Bear—the star always."

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