The Department of Interior is spending almost $5,000 for a 10-foot blow up Smokey the Bear costume.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs purchased the "Air-inflated WalkAround Smokey Bear" on Friday for a reserve in Lame Deer, Montana.
The agency awarded a contract worth $4,832.76 to the Akana Group, a Native American-owned small business based in Michigan. The company Signs and Shapes International rents the inflatable Smokey the Bear costume for just $350.
"The WalkAround Smokey Bear has two distinct advantages – never needs [to be] washed or dry cleaned and it’s cooler than the traditional costume," according to the Forest Service, which has its own inflatable Smokey the Bear costume. "The WalkAround is easy, low maintenance, mobile and really fun to interact with not only the children but adults as well. In the short time we’ve had the inflatable Smokey he has enhanced and broadened our wildfire prevention message."
The costume can be worn for up to 10 hours and is said to "exceed military specifications," according to contract documents.
The 10-foot Smokey "pulls in and circulates over 100 cubic feet of air per minute creating a cooler and more comfortable experience." The costume has a built in "Kool tube" and intake hole for "constant fresh air" to prevent overheating.
Multiple people can also wear the costume without causing hygiene issues.
"The WalkAround Smokey Bear only touches the person inside at the feet and forearms so if a wearer works up a sweat on a hot day, the next wearer still steps into a dry costume," a quote for the costume order said.
The Department of Interior made a similar purchase earlier this year.