It was a moment some felt would never happen – at least not so spontaneously. The two mascots, the Forest Service’s Smokey Bear and the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Sammy Soil were amusing adults and children attending the final USDA Farmer’s Market of the year, when they met face to face on Jefferson Drive. The moment was a little tense as no one really new what would happen.
Would the two continue to “work the crowd” with little or no notice of each other? Would there be a perfunctory but reserved acknowledgement of each other’s presence? Sammy’s and Smokey’s handlers, other USDA agency staff, and passers-by stood and watched and waited. Photographers began capturing the chance meeting with clicking shutters and flashing strobes. Still nothing happened.
Then suddenly – like two siblings separated for years, there was a brilliant flash of recognition. Mission area strangers no more, they clasped hands and slapped each other on the back. There was an almost audible sigh of relief and then scattered applause.
The two mascots turned and faced the gathering as if to say, “We are all partners in conservation, whether on public or private lands!”