CAPITAN, N.M. — Smokey Bear, the icon of the longest-running public service campaign in the U.S., is set to turn 75.

Birthday parties are scheduled to take place this week in honor of the bear that promotes forest fire prevention.

The decision to use the Smokey Bear character happened on Aug. 9, 1944, when the U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council agreed a fictional bear would be the fire prevention campaign symbol.

A badly burned cub found after a 1950 fire in New Mexico's Capitan Mountains was named Smokey Bear and was used in promotional campaigns.

The Gila National Forest in Silver, New Mexico, and Wingfield Park in the town of Ruidoso will hold birthday parties for the bear.

Parties also are scheduled in Reading, Pennsylvania, and Entiat, Washington.