Elk and bear themed face masks are raising funds in support of Great Smoky Mountains National Park — and running out of stock fast.
The nonprofit Great Smoky Mountains Association, recently started selling the masks, to much fanfare, said GSMA Retail director Dawn Roark.
“Looking around at all the different masks available right now, I saw a need for some that represented our love for the Smokies,” Roark said. “Bears and elk are always so popular in the park, so I thought masks featuring these animals would be a hit — and they really have been.”
So far, GSMA has sold about 1,500 of its four mask designs, with proceeds from the sales supporting the national park. The four designs are a bear snout, an elk snout, a full bear and a full elk.
“Our very first shipment of 600 bear snout masks sold out in just two days, and we’ve got another shipment on the way now,” Roark said. “They’ve been extremely popular.”
Mask sales, GSMA memberships and sales of all other items directly support the national park, funding cultural and historical preservation efforts, resource management and monitoring, interpretive demonstrations, activities and other crucial work, Roark said.
“These masks are such a great addition to our catalog,” Roark said. “Not only do they promote safety during visits to the area, they also raise awareness about the park and its inhabitants.”
With a shipment of more bear snout masks on the way, GSMA officials said anyone interested in having a park animal depicted on a mask can email Frances Figart at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“They’re soft, fit well and don’t dig into your ears — and they look super cute,” Roark said. “Hopefully people will take these masks home, wear them around, and remind everyone of all that’s great about the Smokies.”
The masks can be purchased online at www.smokiesinformation.org or in the park’s Oconaluftee Visitor Center at the main N.C. entrance to the park along U.S. 441 outside Cherokee.