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  • Writer's pictureManitoba Electrical Museum

The Nostalgic Icon for Play It Safe

Louie the Lightning Bug

For many people who grew up in the 1970s-2000s, this lightbulb cartoon character would seem familiar. I for one, remember as a child in grade 1, learning about the importance of electrical safety. What really helped me remember was a memorable lightbulb character teaching us with fun songs.

Louie the Lightning Bug is a cartoon character created for Alabama Power Company in 1983 to teach children about electricity and electrical safety. Just a year later, Louie the Lightning Bug became licensed and trademarked by Moore Syndication Inc. Since then, Louie has been successfully teaching children to “play it safe around electricity”. More than 50 utility companies in the US and other parts of the world, including Manitoba Hydro, have incorporated Louie into their safety program.

For those that don't know, Louie the Lightning Bug wasn’t just a character on a piece of paper. Voiced by the late Jack Sheldon (November 30, 1931 – December 27, 2019), Louie promoted electrical safety through songs in Public Service Announcement videos. Many can be seen on YouTube posted by MidAmerican Energy Company.

Louie the Lightning Bug - Be cool with electrical cords by MidAmerican Energy Company.

In 1993, Louie’s Play It Safe Club was established in Manitoba Hydro to educate children about electricity and the importance of being careful at home and at play. Initially, 3,000 children ages three to then signed up. By 1996, Louie’s Play It Safe Club had more than 10, 000 memberships.

Today at Manitoba Hydro, Louie can be seen in various events such as the Teddy Bears’ Picnic in 2018, or in a recent video uploaded in 2020.

Louie The Lightning Bug's Adventure In Electrical Safety by Manitoba Hydro.

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