Peanuts is an American comic strip written and illustrated by cartoonist Charles M. Schulz. Debuting in seven newspapers on October 2nd, 1950, the Peanuts comic strip ran until February 13th, 2000, a day after the passing of Schulz. It is noted as one of the most popular and influential comic strips of all time, with it running in over 2,600 newspapers across 75 countries. Peanuts was also translated into 21 languages and had a reader base of more than 355 million people.
The comic strip mainly follows the daily life of Charlie Brown, a meek and down-on-his luck character who often finds himself in predicaments such as getting his kite tangled up in a tree and having a football pulled out from under him just before he kicks it. Other characters in the Peanuts franchise include the World’s Most Famous Beagle, Snoopy; philosophical Linus and his crabby big sister Lucy; piano-playing Schroeder; attention-grabbing Sally; pals Franklin, Peppermint Patty, Marcie, Pigpen and his famous dust cloud.
The Peanuts comic strip has since grown into a multimedia franchise featuring animated television specials, stage productions, feature films, and books. The comic strip has also inspired theme park attractions, public art projects, and a wide range of merchandising including plush dolls, toys and clothing.
History with the Macy's Parade
Peanuts is currently the longest executive Parade partner of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Since 1967, the franchise has been represented in the line of march by several floats, balloons and promotions.
The first Peanuts float made its debut in the 1967 Macy’s Parade. The float promoted the off-Broadway production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, which was then running at Theatre 80 in New York City. The float featured large paper-maché figures of the show’s main characters - Charlie Brown, who wore a red bomber and yellow baseball cap; Linus, who sat at the front of the float with his famous “security blanket;” and Lucy, who waved to the crowd in her iconic blue dress. Also featured was the beloved Snoopy, who sat perched upon a replica of his famous red doghouse. The show’s cast members appeared on the float in-costume.
The float returned to the lineup in 1968 with a few changes. The Snoopy figure was removed and replaced by a “Gone Flying” sign, a nod to the Aviator Snoopy balloon that debuted that same year and flew behind the float. Following this appearance, the “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” float was retired.
The 1987 Macy’s Parade featured the debut of a brand-new Peanuts float. The float, simply known as the “Peanuts Ice Rink,” was sponsored by Metropolitan Life and featured Charles Schulz’s iconic comic characters enjoying a day out on the ice. Manfred Bass, head designer of the Macy’s Parade Studio at the time, was “especially excited” about the float and its Teflon ice rink with snow-laden trees, icicles, illuminated lamp posts, an ice castle and a snowman for backdrop.
Bass reflected on the float’s design in an interview, saying “When you look out the window at the first snow of the year, the snow sparkles, and as we grow older we all have those precious, special moments. We try to capture them. It’s like looking through a stained-glass window.”
Also featured on the float was Jill Schulz, daughter of Charles Schulz, who was a professional ice skater and glided on the float’s ice rink with Charlie Brown, Lucy and Linus. Soaring several stories above the ground behind the float was the brand-new “Snoopy on Skates” balloon.
The “Peanuts Ice Rink” float made a total of three appearances, and was retired following the snowy 1989 Parade.
Macy’s and Peanuts collaborated to create a new holiday campaign for the 1999 holiday season, celebrating the arrival of the new millennium. In addition to the Millennium Snoopy balloon debuting in that year’s Parade, Snoopy was named the official 1999 Macy’s Holiday Ambassador. In celebration of this promotion, Snoopy was sold as a plush doll at Macy’s stores nationwide in his celebratory best, and a special Millennium Snoopy cold-air balloon adorned the 34th Street marquee.
2006 marked another collaborative holiday campaign between Peanuts and Macy’s. Ringing in the holiday season as the 2006 Holiday Ambassadors were Snoopy and Woodstock who, akin to the previous promotion, were sold as specialty plush toys at Macy’s stores. A cold-air inflatable of Snoopy sleeping on his doghouse was also featured on the 34th Street memorial marquee.
That same year, a brand-new Peanuts-themed float made its debut in the 80th Anniversary Macy’s Parade. The float featured Snoopy’s famous red doghouse serving as an air traffic control center for the then-newly-introduced “Flying Ace Snoopy” balloon. Perched atop the doghouse is the in-charge Woodstock, who clears Snoopy for flight with the help of landing flags. Checking out the scene on the float are fan-favorites Charlie Brown, Lucy and Linus.
The original “Snoopy’s Doghouse” float appeared alongside the Flying Ace Snoopy balloon for several years. In 2008, David Frei and Uno of the National Dog Show made a special appearance on the float, celebrating Uno’s championship title. In 2012, with the Charlie Brown and The Elusive Football balloon returning, Snoopy replaced his owner on the float. Following this appearance, the first Snoopy’s Doghouse float was retired.
2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the classic holiday special, A Charlie Brown Christmas, with Macy’s launching a special collaborative holiday campaign titled “Macy’s Hearts Peanuts.” The promotion showcased Peanuts characters through a collectible plush of Snoopy and his sister Belle, Macy’s famed holiday windows, and a revamped version of the “Snoopy’s Doghouse “ float.
Featuring many familiar sights from the animated classic, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” the float highlights signature elements of the special, including Snoopy’s dog dish brimming with delicious bones, an oversized version of Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree and of course, Snoopy’s ornately decorated doghouse. Along for the ride on the new float were Charlie Brown, Lucy and Linus, who kept an eye out on Snoopy as he took flight once again with his pal Woodstock as a giant character helium balloon.
Snoopy would replace his owner on the float once again the following year, as a Charlie Brown balloon debuted in the 2016 Macy’s Parade. The second Snoopy’s Doghouse float would be retired following the 2018 Parade.
Honoring the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, Peanuts, NASA and Macy’s produced a series of special surprises for the 2019 Macy’s Parade. As fans thronged the sidewalks of Manhattan, former NASA astronauts Kay Hire and Dr. Janet Kavandi joined Charlie Brown aboard a remodeled Snoopy's Doghouse float. The revamped float featured Woodstock peering into a telescope atop Snoopy's doghouse and a satellite antenna, along with such iconic Peanuts visuals as Charlie Brown's infamous football—and, of course, Snoopy's red supper dish.
Soaring behind the special Peanuts tableau was a 49-foot tall Astronaut Snoopy balloon, decked out in a bright orange spacesuit. A special appearance from the International Space Station on NBC’s broadcast of the Parade featured NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir, greeting the 50 million viewers at home with an eight-inch Snoopy plush.
The Snoopy’s Doghouse float was planned to make an appearance in the reimagined 2020 Parade, rolling down 34th Street with the Astronaut Snoopy balloon. However, rising cases of COVID-19 caused the float to be pulled from the lineup days before the event took place. The Astronaut Snoopy balloon was also demoted to a pre-recorded appearance.
Snoopy’s Doghouse returned to the lineup for the 2021 Macy’s Parade, featuring famous Peanuts pals such as Charlie Brown, Lucy and Linus as they waved to Parade spectators along the 2.5-mile long route.
- Hofer, Kaycee J. (February 22, 2000). "Saying Goodbye: Friends and family eulogize cartoonist Charles Schulz | San Francisco Chronicle.
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