“Smokey Bear and Me: A Thanksgiving Thrill!”
By Tim Lowrimore
Thanksgiving 2023 is a holiday I won’t forget for a long time. While it did take me away from Georgia, my trip to New York City to walk in the legendary Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was truly memorable.
As Georgia’s state forester, I was honored to be invited to join a small volunteer cadre accompanying forestry’s wildfire prevention mascot, Smokey Bear, down the parade route. Our group of forestry volunteers jumped at the chance to share the “Only You Can Prevent Wildfire” message made famous by the US Forest Service’s iconic mascot. Nevada State Forester Kacey KC was with us and it was a pleasure to get to know her as we shared our common ground fire prevention message. Helping hold the lines on our giant, helium-filled Big Bear in the Big Apple was quite an experience! Fortunately, it wasn’t too cold or too windy to do our jobs, and fellow balloon handlers Kasey and Chelsea (former Disney employees) made it easier by “showing us the ropes,” so to speak. I had a chance to tell them about what makes Georgia the #1 Forestry State in the Nation, and they were surprised to learn about it. They told me they had “no idea” about the importance of forestry!
It was really fun to be part of the high-energy holiday excitement in the city. Thousands of people lined the streets on the parade route, and it was amazing to hear them chant for Smokey and repeat our “Only You…” mantra! We were on the route for close to two hours and I enjoyed every minute of it. And while I didn’t get to meet any human celebrities (my family did see Cher and Jimmy Fallon), it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that – if asked – I would happily volunteer for again!