Photos: Bear Hug

Sorrow and horror show in kids’ faces, lower left, as they watch a film telling Smokey Bear’s story: He was created in 1944, and now Smokey and his current motto — “Only you can prevent wildfires” — are recognized by 95 percent of Americans. The first living symbol of Smokey was a cub rescued in 1950 from a wildfire in New Mexico.

Smokey himself appeared on Monday, a day off from school for Columbus Day, and gave a big hug to a girl who had his portrait painted on her cheek, center. He exchanged high fives with a boy as a ranger looked on, below.

The annual event was hosted by the Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center to teach visitors about wildfire prevention and the use of prescribed fire as a management tool in the Pine Bush Preserve. The day included races, games, and crafts — as the boy, at top, carefully colors a bookmark.

Photographs by Michael Koff

More Regional News

All of the nearly 1,000 private pilots who have been approved to work with Angel Flight Northeast volunteer their time and fuel and use their own planes for the flights, which Angel Flight refers to as “missions.”

Anyone in need of transport to medical treatment can apply, and many patients are referred by social workers, doctors, civic organizations, or even through word-of-mouth from other patients.            

Guilderland's super has calculated that the cost for 23 Capital Region districts to meet new state requirements would total over $5 million; 59 teachers would need to be hired and qualified ESL teachers are in short supply.

"At the end of the day, we've done the right thing for students," said Guilderland's business administrator as the district has used its fund balance to preserve programs, causing the comptroller to deem it "susceptible" to stress.