A Minnesota city council unanimously votes to "bare" Smokey Bear!

Now before you lose your shirt too...

He's just "Smokey Bear" and not "Smokey the Bear".  The "the" was added in a 1952 song version so it maintained the rhythm of the tune. Some adoring fans still call him Smokey the Bear.  They're wrong and should probably be cancelled by social media.

In 1954, this Smokey Bear statue entered the world shirtless and by goodness, last month, the International Falls city council voted to strip Smokey of his rotating seasonal attire and ordered him to be made bare and left outside freezing in "The Icebox of the Nation".

What sort of monsters are these Minnesotans?

attachment-SMOKEY4 YouTube via Lakeland PBS

Here's Smokey and his bear cub buddies being placed in their forever home back in 1954.  There was much joy!  Over the years the self-proclaimed cold capital really warmed up to bears.  Eventually, they figured that since Smokey was already wearing pants, wouldn't it be the right thing to dress up Smokey and the cubs to fit the change of seasons.  So for the last few decades, that's what they've been doing.

attachment-SMOKEY1 YouTube via Lakeland PBS


Until International Falls Mayor Harley Droba and his fun-hating city council voted 4-0 to put an end to any more apparel.  I'm surprised they didn't vote to de-pants the guy while they were at it.

Here's the boneheaded reasoning behind it all.

One, they don't want to degrade the importance of Smokey's primary goal of preventing forest fires. But also because other cities with famous statues in Minnesota think International Falls is crazy for dressing the bear in different clothes. 

attachment-SMOKEY3 YouTube via Lakeland PBS

I think we all get that Smokey can still prevent forest fires while working a flannel vest, it was because the local government was embarrassed that their city really liked to play dress-up.  Council member Mike Holden confessed to growing out of it.

Council member Mike Holden, who admitted he enjoyed dressing Smokey the Bear from the 1980s onward, said banning decorations is the "right move" and it keeps the statue's message about fire prevention from being "degraded."

FOR SHAME!  What about future generations that have been looking forward to their shot of suiting up Smokey?  I will say they should probably not let it get so darn commercial...

attachment-SMOKEY2 YouTube via Lakeland PBS

But even a bear has to make a buck am I right?   International Falls stripping of Smokey is sending shivers through the rest of Minnesota's statue community.  If it happened to Smokey it could sure happen to them.  Look out fellas!

attachment-SMOKEY7 YouTube via Lakeland PBS

That skirt is already kinda short.

attachment-SMOKEY5 YouTube via Lakeland PBS

Speaking of short...is it me, or are his legs kinda short?

attachment-SMOKEY6 YouTube via Lakeland PBS

I just hope Minnesota puts an end to this madness and puts a vest back on that bear!

From Lakeland PBS on Facebook, here are a number of other roadside attractions in Minnesota.

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