Northam visits Charlottesville for Smokey Bear's birthday

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Virginia Governor Ralph Northam was in Charlottesville on Monday celebrating the 75th birthday of U.S. Forest Service mascot Smokey Bear.

Campers from Triple C camp were special guests at an event that featured coloring, cake and hugs from the mascot himself, who’s taught children the famous line, “Only you can prevent forest fires,” for more than seven decades.

At the celebration held at the Virginia Department of Forestry headquarters, Northam told the campers Virginia’s forests are an important natural resource and are critical to the state’s economy. He urged them to follow Smokey’s advice.

“Remember our animals and people across Virginia have to be safe, so if there's a fire, it puts people at risk," Northam said.

Smokey Bear was created by the U.S. Forest Service in 1944. A real bear cub that was rescued from a forest fire in 1950 was named Smokey and lived at the National Zoo until the 1970s.

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