Bridgeport Ranger District Fire Control Officer Marion Hysell welcomed Smokey Bear to the Bridgeport Ranger Station on July 4, 1964. (Note: The 1960s-1970s era U.S. Forest Service shoulder insignia did not arrive in this corner of the Intermountain Region until 1966.)
As fire prevention guard on the Bridgeport Ranger District, Toiyabe National Forest, from 1963 through 1966, I continued the district’s practice of having Smokey Bear appear in Bridgeport’s famous Fourth of July parade. This small town of less than 400, nestled in a verdant valley of the same name at the foot of the eastern Sierra Nevada 85 miles south of Carson City, Nevada, and 85 miles north of Bishop, California, is county seat of Mono County, California, and a popular outdoor recreation center.
One of the larger guys on the fire crew or trail crew was cajoled into wearing the Smokey costume shipped our way from the regional office in Ogden, Utah, for this annual walk or ride down Main Street—U.S. Highway 395—lined by hundreds of local residents and summer visitors.
Smokey sometimes rode on a float accompanied by ranger station kids. On this occasion, as coordinated with the local 4-H Club and led by two of its members, he marched and waved to the parade’s appreciative onlookers.
After the parade, a properly-escorted Smokey always mingled with the crowd in town and then visited with kids in the Toiyabe National Forest’s large Twin Lakes area campgrounds.