Charlie Brown is the central protagonist of the long-running comic strip Peanuts, created by Charles M. Schulz, which is syndicated in numerous newspapers all over the world. One of the great American archetypes, Charlie Brown is popular and recognized for being a "lovable loser": a kid who suffers a lot, is very nervous and lacks self-confidence, but sometimes hopes for the best and tries as much as he can to accomplish things. According to Schulz, he is "a caricature of the average person," who is much more acquainted with losing than winning. He, along with his dog Snoopy, was ranked by TV Guide as the eighth greatest cartoon character of all time.
History with the Macy's Parade
Charlie Brown has appeared as a balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade since 2002, generally during the years when Snoopy has been absent.
Charlie Brown & The Elusive Football (2002)
Charlie Brown's first balloon portrayed him in a "chasing" stance, with a football balloon in front of him, referencing an annual recurring gag in Peanuts where he attempts to kick the ball before Lucy van Pelt pulls it away to make him feel miserable and powerless. This balloon led the parade in its first year and continued to appear until 2005. The balloon also appeared in a 2008 Coca-Cola commercial, in which he claims victory over a Coca-Cola bottle that Stewie Griffin and Underdog had previously fought over.
Charlie Brown returned in 2012 with the football when Snoopy's "Flying Ace" balloon was retired from the Parade. This return was brief, though, as the balloon would be retired the next year as a new balloon of Snoopy was introduced, pairing him with his best bird buddy, Woodstock.
The balloon made its final public appearance at the 2014 MoCCA Arts Festival in New York City. Here, the Charlie Brown balloon made a very special appearance to delight fans young and old as he soared inside the 69th Regiment Armory.
The balloon was on display April 5-6, joining 2014 MoCCA Arts Festival fans and honorees including Alison Bechdel, Howard Cruse, Fiona Staples and Robert Williams, who were celebrated for their work in illustration, comic and cartoon art during the acclaimed arts gathering.
Charlie Brown & His Kite (2016)
In 2016, the lovable blockhead appeared in the form of a new balloon, to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the beloved Broadway musical, You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown. This balloon featured Charlie Brown in a familiar pose, running, full-tilt with his red kite and its length of string frustratingly wrapped around him. The inspiration for this classic moment comes straight from the popular play. In one scene, Charlie Brown finally gets the kite off the ground, only to have that insane kite-eating tree snatch it out of the sky and devour it.
That same Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown would rise for yet another fruitless effort to get his kite aloft. If only he knew he was already flying. The balloon made subsequent appearances in the 2017 and 2018 Parades, and was retired shortly after the latter. It was later revealed that the balloon was retired in order to allow the Astronaut Snoopy balloon to take flight.
The balloon was most recently seen in the balloon loft at Macy's Parade Studio in November of 2019.
Throughout the years, Charlie Brown has appeared on the Snoopy's Doghouse float in the form of both live-action and walk-around character forms.
Charlie Brown was first represented in the Parade on 1967's You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown float, the role of which was played by Gary Burghoff, who played the blockhead during its first off-Broadway run. Burghoff would reprise the role for the 1968 Parade.
When the Snoopy on Skates balloon debuted in 1987, so did a new Peanuts-themed float. Entitled simply "Peanuts Skating Rink", the float featured appearances by many characters from the Peanuts franchise, including Charlie Brown, Lucy, and Linus. This float would appear throughout the 1989 Parade.
Starting in 2006, to coincide with the appearance of the Flying Ace Snoopy balloon, a brand-new Snoopy's Doghouse float was created. Riding on the float for the first time in almost 20 years was Charlie Brown, Lucy, and Linus. The float cast remained unchanged until its final appearance in 2012. Here, Snoopy replaced Charlie Brown, as the latter's balloon returned that same year.
A new Snoopy's Doghouse float debuted in 2015, and like the previous incarnation, boasted the appearances of Charlie Brown, Lucy and Linus for its maiden appearance. The following year, Charlie Brown would appear as a balloon, and the walk-around version of himself was replaced by his pet dog, Snoopy. This remained the same until the 2018 Parade.
With a new Astronaut Snoopy balloon debuting in 2019, the Snoopy's Doghouse float went under a brief refurbishment. With the refurbishment came the return appearance of the Charlie Brown walk-around costume, now riding on the float solo.
Below, you will find the music tracks that played during the balloon's appearance on the NBC Parade telecast.
- "Linus and Lucy" Marching Band rendition (2002-2005, 2012)
- "Linus and Lucy" Remix (2016-2018)
- In 2004, the Elusive Football was low on helium for the majority of the Parade for unknown reasons.
- The second balloon was supposed to show Charlie Brown upside-down wrapped in his kite, evident through a concept sketch. However, this was altered to make him positioned right-side-up.
- During the second balloon's debut in 2016, the hosts mentioned it being Charlie Brown's “first appearance in over 10 years”. However, this is inaccurate, due to the original balloon making a brief return in 2012, so technically it marks Charlie Brown's first appearance in 4 years.