When reflecting on who were the mellowest people on television in the 1980s, Bob Ross rises right to the top of the list. And he was a mainstay on the mellowest television network, PBS. 

It was Bob Ross who taught America’s homebound couch potatoes how to paint landscape paintings right in their living rooms while standing in front of the TV. Thanks to the Public Broadcasting Service, and Bob Ross, a smoldering ember of hope was placed into the hearts of simple viewers, that they too could produce impressive works of art. 

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From Bartender To Beloved Painter 

Ross was a master sergeant in the Air Force, and working as a part-time bartender, when he was exposed to the concept of creating a painting within thirty minutes. After viewing episodes of a TV show called The Magic of Oil Painting, hosted by Bill Alexander, he decided to give it a try. Alexander used a technique called “wet-on-wet" making thirty-minute creations a reality.  

Ross gained success and retired from the military and gained his own show, The Joy of Painting, in 1983, on PBS station WIPB, in Muncie, Indiana. One of Bob’s favorite phrases was “happy little”. He would often chuckle and say, “We can put a happy little cloud here”, or a “Happy little tree” there. He was just a happy guy and shared his enthusiasm. 

Bob Ross At Work

Bob Ross at work on PBS.
Bob Ross via YouTube

Michigan Honors Bob Ross 

Bob Ross crossed over to the other side, on July 4, 1995, but his program remains a favorite on YouTube, where Bob Ross weekend marathons run weekly. The State of Michigan is doing its part to honor Bob Ross and his love of nature. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is hosting the 2024 Run for the Trees: Happy Little 5k. 

The MDNR launched the Happy Little 5k in 2020 with Bob Ross, Inc. It’s a virtual event that is now taking root in more than a half-dozen other states across the country. 

Happy Little 5k Swag

Happy Little 5k swag
Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources

So What Is This 5k Event All About? 

Initially, the MDNR partnered with Bob Ross Inc., to start the Happy Little Trees Program, where hundreds of volunteers would plant “happy little trees” at locations that were hard-hit by invasive pests and tree diseases. The program became a success and was expanded into the virtual Run For The Trees: Happy Little 5k. With the help of this program, the DNR has pledged to plant 50 million trees by 2030 and aims to inspire people to plant trees.

 How Can I Participate? 

One of the great things about this event is that it is designed so that everyone can participate, no matter what their personal limitations. Registrants can register online and complete their 5K anywhere outdoors – on foot, or by bike, skate or paddle, or using a mobility device – anytime between Earth Day and Arbor Day, April 22-26.  The MDNR says, 

For $36 per person, each participant will receive a keepsake Happy Little T-shirt, a commemorative bib number and a Bob Ross-inspired finisher’s medal. All race proceeds support tree planting and forest protection efforts in state parks. 

A True Testament To Bob Ross 

Joan Kowalski, president of Bob Ross, Inc., has witnessed the growth of the Happy Little 5k, and feels that it is a true testament to what Bob Ross stood for. 

The official Bob Ross 5K is just my favorite thing – there’s something about it that is so perfect. It’s the perfect blend of everything Bob held dear: nature, taking care of the environment, and happy trees, too, of course. He would have been so pleased to see how it’s getting so popular around the world. 

A Short Happy Little Bob Ross Video 

Illegal Names You Can't Name Your Baby in Michigan

According to Michigan state law and We Have Kids, you can't name your child any of the names listed below in the Mitten State.

Gallery Credit: Jacob Harrison

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