Snoopy is a fictional character in the popular comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. The pet beagle of the main character Charlie Brown, Snoopy debuted on the strip's first week, in October 1950. He is one of the most recognizable and iconic characters in the Peanuts franchise, including the original strip, its television specials and, feature film adaptation. He was ranked by TV Guide as the eighth-greatest cartoon character of all time, and in 2015 he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
History with the Macy's Parade
Snoopy has been a regular staple character in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade since 1968, So far, he has had more unique variants of balloons than any other character, with eight in total, and has appeared the most out of any character, with a grand total of 38 appearances so far.
Snoopy made his Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade debut in 1968 in the form of a giant balloon. Goodyear engineer, William Ludwick of Akron designed a 50-foot-tall balloon likeness of the “Peanuts” character to entertain the Manhattan crowd. Filled with helium, the famous beagle didn’t even need a Sopwith Camel to zoom through the air.
Goodyear's new balloon, the 88th character created for Macy's Parade since the late 1920s, capitalized on the success of such animated TV specials as “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (1965) and “It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” (1966), and the 1966 novelty song “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron” by the Royal Guardsmen.
“Fashioning an inflatable likeness of Snoopy was a sizable undertaking at Goodyear,” Bird wrote. “Nearly eight months and 1,500 man-hours were required to design, cut, seam, glue, and assemble the more-than-4,000 square feet of fabric going into the carcass.”
For the 250-pound balloon's unveiling at the Wingfoot Lake hangar in Suffield Township, Goodyear's PR department hired Ohio airshow pilot Everett Dyer to dress up like the Red Baron in a leather jacket, helmet, goggles, and white scarf.
The dedication and time towards the Snoopy balloon would pay off later that November, as he became an instant Parade mainstay.
Hot off the trails of the Apollo 11 space program, which had successfully sent Neil Armstrong to the moon earlier that year, the parade team decided to have Snoopy refitted in space gear for the 1969 Parade.
This variation of the balloon borrows the same basic structure of its previous incarnation, with the addition of an oxygen tank-like component. Aesthetically, the balloon gained a pair of blue feet to simulate boots and a black-and-white cap, meant to represent an astronaut's helmet.
In 1971, Snoopy was going to be one of the only three balloons to still be able to fly despite extreme weather. However gusty winds caused the balloon (alongside Smokey Bear and Happy Dragon) to escape from his netting. Snoopy suffered the worst out of the three the winds carried the balloon through the air until its head was wrapped around a cab of a tractor-trailer truck, tearing him open in the process. Because of this, all three balloons were taken out of the lineup, and therefore there could not be any balloons at all that year.
In 1973, the towering Astronaut Snoopy suffered a puncture to his chest, in addition to a limp wrist. The Astronaut Snoopy balloon was once again removed from the line of march in 1975, when the balloon crashed into a 73rd Street lamppost. The damages to the balloon were severe enough to warrant a removal, and the balloon was pulled from the line of march.
Snoopy's astronaut getup would be used until 1977, making it the longest-lasting incarnation of Snoopy so far. For the 1978 Parade, the Snoopy balloon was remodeled to match his previously-retired aviator form.
The Snoopy balloon continued to appear throughout the late 1970's and into the early 1980's. During preparations for the 1980 Parade, the Aviator Snoopy balloon's left leg and arm were deflated by a shard of glass. Repairs could not be made in time and as a result, the balloon was once again removed from the Parade. The balloon returned the following year, now bearing a noticeable patch on his previously-wounded leg. After the balloon passed by the NBC cameras in Herald Square, the patch began to fall off the balloon, causing the five-story tall Snoopy to wilt to the ground.
The Aviator Snoopy balloon was once again retired after the 1982 Parade due to an undisclosed incident. The balloon returned to the Parade in 1985, where Snoopy carried Santa Claus' list of good boys and girls. When turning onto 34th Street, the list became detached from the balloon and fall to the ground below with no damage done to the balloon.
The 1985 Parade marked Aviator Snoopy's final appearance in the main parade, though it wouldn't be the balloon's final public appearance. The balloon appeared in the 1986 edition of Macy's-Egleston Christmas Parade alongside Macy's Parade contemporaries Donald Duck and Yogi Bear.
Following the passing of Peanuts comic creator Charles Schultz, the Aviator Snoopy balloon was filled with helium and flown in a tribute parade in Santa Rosa, California. The balloon was last seen when it was given a partial air inflation at the Peanuts Museum; as of 2020, this marks the final time a Goodyear balloon has been seen publicly. Shortly after this appearance, the balloon was torn up, and now only a few small pieces of the balloon still exist as of 2006.
Following a year of absence from the Parade, Snoopy returned to the Parade in 1987 with a 62-foot tall "Skating" variant, measuring 62 times the height of a real-life beagle. Due to the technological advancements since the original balloon's creation, this Snoopy became much more faithful to its cartoon counterpart. Here, Snoopy wears a large Macy's-branded stocking hat, a red and black striped scarf, and a huge pair of ice skates. Originally, a smaller Woodstock balloon was planned to be added on the back of Snoopy's hat, but it was eliminated from the final design. This design only appeared in the 1987 Parade, and was last confirmed to exist in a February 1989 balloon inventory sheet.
This Snoopy balloon also appeared as a plush toy sold at Macy's stores, as he served as the Holiday Ambassador that year.
Like its predecessor, the balloon was used in the 1987 Macy's-Egleston Christmas Parade.
Borrowing patterns from the previous balloon, 1988's Snoopy balloon wears Macy's-branded earmuffs, a green and white scarf, red ice skates, and a Macy's branded Christmas jumper. As a bonus, the company added a smaller balloon of his best friend, Woodstock, 24 feet tall and wearing a Macy's-branded woolly hat. The addition of Woodstock made Snoopy (alongside Big Bird and his ABC Bouncing Balls) one of the first balloons to be accompanied by another balloon. In 1995, gusty winds caused the Snoopy balloon to blow into a flagpole at Macy's flagship department store, with the impact popping a hole in Snoopy's muzzle. After this appearance, both Snoopy and Woodstock were retired from the Parade.
A smaller re-creation of this balloon also appeared, sans Woodstock, at a mall near the entrance of a Macy's store during the 2000 holiday season.
After being without Snoopy for almost four years, the Snoopy balloon returned in a "Millennium" variant that led the 1999 Parade, also acting as the 1999 Macy's Holiday Ambassador. No longer accompanied by Woodstock, this version has a jester's hat and appears to be blowing a gaudy horn which says "Macy's 2000." Like the 1987 version, this balloon also appeared as a plush toy sold at Macy's stores. In 2001, Snoopy's gaudy horn was changed to "Macy's 75th Parade" as one of many Parade units that were altered to help celebrate the Parade's 75th anniversary. The balloon was retired after 2001.
The balloon was later used at the opening of a Macy's store in mid-2004.
After being absent from 2002 to 2005, due to his owner Charlie Brown taking his place, Snoopy returned as a "Flying Ace" balloon, modeled after his best-known alternate persona, and serving as the Macy's Holiday Ambassador for the 3rd time. In this design, he wears a brown aviator hat, goggles, and a red scarf. So far, the WW1 Flying Ace is the only specific variant of Snoopy to have led the Parade more than once, which were 2006 and 2010. The balloon was retired after the 2011 Parade due to the visible wear-and-tear.
In December 2010, this Snoopy balloon was one of the units that were re-staged as a filming project for a scene in the 2011 comedy film, Tower Heist.
After Snoopy's faithful owner, Charlie Brown, took his place in the line of march the previous year, Snoopy returned to the sky over New York City in 2013 for a holiday trip with his pal Woodstock perched on his head. Gliding down Manhattan, Snoopy and Woodstock delighted eager Parade fans on Thanksgiving morning. Designed by the artists of Macy’s Parade Studio in collaboration with the Peanuts team, the Snoopy and Woodstock balloon giants quickly lived up to the high-flying legacy of their predecessors. The balloon made continuous appearances until 2015 when it was retired.
Despite the balloon's retirement, he has been seen in various fall test flights, having been most recently seen in September 2019.
After three years of Charlie Brown squirming his way out of a tangled-up kite tail, the beagle's faithful owner was retired in favor of a brand-new Snoopy balloon. Snoopy returned in the 2019 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade as Astronaut Snoopy, which is to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo space programs as well as the 50th anniversary of the original Astronaut Snoopy balloon. This time around, he wears an orange coat and has a helmet, as opposed to an astronaut radio headset, making him the fourth balloon, after Abby Cadabby, Buzz Lightyear, and Sunny the Snowpal, respectively, to use clear material. Like most of his other versions, he is not accompanied by Woodstock this time. The balloon measures at 49-feet tall, 43-feet long, and 29-feet wide, and was the 100th balloon to be created by Raven Aerostar. In the re-imagined 2020 Parade, Astronaut Snoopy 2.0 was shown through pre-recorded footage from previous parades on the NBC broadcast.
In addition to appearing as a balloon, Snoopy has appeared in the Macy's Parade in a costumed-character version on a couple of floats.
- Snoopy first appeared as a walk-around character on 1983's America's Comic Stars float, serving as a replacement for the Aviator Snoopy balloon. The walk-around was retired with the float in 1984, and the Aviator Snoopy balloon returned the following year.
- In 2001, the beagle appeared atop the Toon Balloon-Abration float, celebrating the parade's special 75th anniversary, along with Kermit the Frog, Garfield, Smokey Bear, and other characters who had appeared as balloons in the parade but had been retired; the character's suit here was based on his 1987 "Skating" variant.
- Pairing up with the then-new Charlie Brown balloon, a walk-around version of Snoopy appeared upon the "Pep Rally" float.
- In 2012, the costumed-character version of Snoopy returned on the "Snoopy's Doghouse" float, along with costumed-character versions of Charlie Brown and his friends Linus and Lucy van Pelt, the character reappeared on the float from 2016 to 2018, as Charlie Brown became a balloon again during that same time span.
Below, you will find a list of the music tracks that played during the balloon's appearance on the NBC telecast
- Generic Macy's music (1968-1982; 1985)
- "Snoopy Come Home" (1987)
- "Linus and Lucy" (Oh, Good Grief! album version; 1988-1995)
- "Linus and Lucy" (Original version, 1999, 2001)
- "Linus and Lucy" (Upbeat, 2000)
- "Linus and Lucy" (Milton Delugg Version; 2006-2011, 2013)
- "Linus and Lucy" (Remix; 2014-2015, 2019-Present)
- In 1989, high winds caused Snoopy's nose to get punctured by trees before the Parade started. Because of this accident, he had to be left behind and could not start the march at all, along with the new Bugs Bunny balloon. His handlers would handle the Woody Woodpecker balloon.
- In 1995, Snoopy’s muzzle was ripped open by a flagpole at Herald Square shortly after his NBC telecast appearance, which is a possible reason why this version was retired afterwards.
- At the September 2019 Balloon Practice, Snoopy's muzzle was losing helium during his test flight due to unknown reasons. It is possible that either a chamber inside the balloon had busted upon flight, or the balloon itself was starting to become out of shape despite being new at the time.
- Snoopy currently holds the title for most design changes of a balloon character in the Parade's history, with eight and counting.