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L.L. Bean's Bootmobile.

In honor of its 100th anniversary, L.L. Bean plans to donate $1 million to the National Parks Foundation, as part of a yearlong initiative to try to encourage more families to explore this country’s nearly 400 parks.

 

For this afternoon’s announcement of the news, the $1.4 billion Freeport, Maine-based mail order business and retailer will drive its “Bootmobile” — a 20-foot long, 13-foot-high vehicle shaped like L.L. Bean’s iconic Maine hunting boot — into Times Square. Through the “Million Moment Mission” campaign, the business is encouraging customers to share their outdoor adventures via Twitter, Facebook and the company’s Web site. Once one million people have weighed in with photos, testimonials and ideas, L.L. Bean will make its donation to the NPF’s “America’s Best Idea” program official. The America’s Best Idea effort provides grants enabling children from underserved communities to enjoy different activities and educational programs in parks throughout the year.

L.L. Bean founder Leon Leonwood built the company on the belief that spending time outdoors was fundamental to happiness in life, and “that still continues to drive us in all that we do,” said chief executive officer Chris McCormick.

Now more than ever Americans could use some exercise in the fresh air, according to a recent survey by L.L. Bean and the NPF, which reported that 60 percent of parents said their children spend an hour or less outdoors each day. NPF president and ceo Neil Mulholland said, “There is no better way to safeguard our nation’s treasures and inspire new generations of outdoor enthusiasts than by introducing a young person to our national parks.”

Another element of L.L. Bean’s centennial celebration will be the Get Outfitted Gear contest, which will award $500 worth of L.L. Bean products to one winner each day all year. Consumers can enter the online contest by explaining why they need specific gear. That competition also will go live today on the company’s Web site. As for the Bootmobile, it kicked off what will be an all-year national tour in Brunswick, Maine, where L.L. Bean makes every pair of its iconic boots. In the past five years, the company has tripled sales of those boots to 400,000 units, said Richard Bulman, 100th anniversary project manager.

The firm’s 5,000 staffers will also get to join in the celebration later this year. A week of activities and festivities in Freeport is being planned around the Fourth of July for employees and the public. The details for a 100th anniversary party for L.L. Bean-ers and their families are still being ironed out for some time in the latter half of the year, said Bulman, who has spent the past 12 months mapping out all the revelry.