Smokey Bear Days

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About Capitan , NM

Capitan New Mexico is located in a scenic area were contrasts in vistas abound. The Village Center is located about the intersection of US 380 and NM 48 roughly 20 miles north of central Ruidoso. The community has about 1500 residents and claims an educationally top rated public school system with competitive interscholastic sports programs. Employment heavily supports the tourism economy of Ruidoso.

Capitan has a charming downtown area that is a step back in time. With a little imagination one can envision riding into town on horseback dusty from a long day's ride with an empty canteen and the Winchester rifle close at hand. The large trees of the downtown area and normally light breezes make Capitan a delightful place to spend a spring afternoon.

The Village of Capitan hosts three major events each year: Smokey Bear Days, an all American Fourth of July celebration and Parade and the Lincoln County fair which touts a popular rodeo each August. Certainly, apple pie must be the town's most popular dessert.

Smokey Bear

Smokey Bear is and has been this country's number one fire prevention icon since 1944. This fire prevention program which actually began with Disney's Bambi as the central figure, is the longest running public service campaign in US history.

In May of 1950, fires driven by strong unpredictable winds were ravaging the Capitan Mountains . Brave firefighters were risking their lives to contain the devastation. Some of these men and a small black bear cub were trapped in the same area when the winds drove the fire right at them. The men took what shelter was available and the bear climbed a tree. All survived. The story of the men's bravery and the rescue of the bear caught the heart of the nation.

The little bear, “Smokey” was nursed to health and eventually relocated to the National Zoo in Washington DC , where he became the real live Smokey Bear.

Be sure to remember that it is “Smokey Bear” not “Smokey the Bear”. It will spare you an embarrassing correction from a Capitan local and keep your out of town identity safe for a few extra moments.

Smokey's image is protected by US Federal Law and is administered by the USDA Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters and the Ad Council.

To this day some of the nation's top wildfire fighting hot shots live and work in the Lincoln County and Mescalero Apache areas.

Come celebrate Smokey Bear and fire prevention with the residents of Capitan , NM May 5 th and 6 th 2005. It doesn't get anymore “All American” than this.

Thank you to the USDA Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters and the Ad Council for making information and all of the images available for this article.

March 19, 2005