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.
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.
History with the Macy's Parade
Here, you will find a list of all of the unique balloon variants of Snoopy, dating back to his introduction to the Parade in 1968.
Aviator Snoopy (1968, 1978-1982, 1985)
Thanks to Akron's Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Charlie Brown's puppy pal rose to the occasion more than 50 years ago at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. 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.
“Snoopy will soon be leaving the Charlie Brown crowd for one day to join the best-known gasbags in the world,” wrote Goodyear PR man John Bird of Fairlawn. “The conqueror of the Mighty Red Baron will team up with Donald Duck, Smokey the Bear, Bullwinkle Moose, and other longtime comic strip and TV favorites to give added flair to Macy's annual Thanksgiving Day parade.”
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. This balloon was retired that same year, but was brought back a decade later in 1978. The high-flying balloon would continue through all Parades until 1982 when the balloon suffered an accident and had to be briefly retired. The balloon would make one final appearance in the main Parade in 1985, carrying a list of good boys and girls.
Though this original balloon was never seen in the main Parade again, he would travel to Atlanta in 1986 to appear in Macy's-Egleston Christmas Parade and traveled to Santa Rosa, California as part of a Charles Schultz Tribute parade in the year 2000. Sometime after this, the balloon also had a partial air inflation at the Peanuts Museum.
The balloon is speculated to still survive to this day, although this remains unconfirmed.
Astronaut Snoopy (1969-1977)
In 1969, a second Snoopy balloon was created. The beloved beagle's second original balloon in the parade was as an astronaut, to commemorate the Apollo 11 space program, which had successfully sent Neil Armstrong to the moon earlier that year.
The balloon borrows the same basic balloon shape 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. Astronaut Snoopy was also the longest-lasting Snoopy balloon design, making nine appearances from 1969 until 1977.
Snoopy on Skates (1987)
After being absent the previous year, Snoopy returned to the Parade in 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, he wears a large Macy's branded stocking hat, a 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 Snoopy balloon also appeared as a plush toy sold at Macy's stores, as he served as the Holiday Ambassador that year. The balloon made its first and only flight in 1987, and also appeared in that year's edition of the Macy's-Egleston Christmas Parade.
Winter Snoopy and Woodstock (1988-1995)
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 one of two first-ever balloons to be accompanied by a novelty balloon (the other being Big Bird with the ABC Bouncing Balls). This balloon retired after 1995 due to a accident. The balloon also flew in the 1988 edition of Macy's-Egleston Christmas 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.
Millennium Snoopy (1999-2001)
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 items that were altered to help celebrate the Parade's 75th anniversary.
The balloon was later used at the opening of a Macy's store in mid-2004.
Snoopy as the Flying Ace (2006-2011)
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 -- 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.
Snoopy and Woodstock (2013-2015)
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.
Astronaut Snoopy 2.0 (2019-Present)
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 addition to appearing as a balloon, Snoopy has appeared in the Macy's parade in a costumed-character version on a couple of occasions.
- 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, 1999, 2001)
- "Linus and Lucy" (Milton Delugg Version; 2006-2011, 2013)
- "Linus and Lucy" (Remix; 2014-2015, 2019-Present)
- In 1971, Snoopy was going to be one of only three balloons to still be able to fly despite extreme weather, but high winds caused him (alongside Smokey Bear and Happy Dragon) to escape from his netting, the winds were so strong that he was wrapped around a cab of a tractor-trailer truck that pulled one of the huge over the highway helium tube trailers, 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 1975, Snoopy hit a lamppost at 73rd Street and collapsed, so he had to be removed.
- In 1976, Astronaut Snoopy got tangled up in a tree at Columbus Circle but was quickly freed.
- In 1980, Aviator Snoopy's arm and leg both broke due to a shard of glass and he could not fly at all. The following year the balloon had a noticeable gray patch on his leg.
- In 1981, the said gray patch on his leg detached shortly after his appearance on the NBC telecast, causing the balloon to deflate rapidly.
- In 1985, the Santa Claus list came off the Aviator Snoopy balloon and fell onto the ground when the balloon rounded the corner onto 34th Street. However, the balloon itself was not damaged.
- 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.
- In 1993, Woodstock nearly escaped from his handlers at the staging area, but were able to recover the balloon right before step-off.
- 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.
- In 1973, his right hand was bent and his chest was deflated.
- In 1982, Snoopy's tail was deflated along the parade route.
- In the 1986 edition of the Macy's Christmas Parade in Atlanta, Georgia, Aviator Snoopy's right hand was deflated or dented (probably because of the aging of the balloon).
- In 1993, Snoopy's right earmuffs and ear was a little deflated.
- In 1994, Snoopy's left skate was deflated.
- In 1999, The right side of Millennium Snoopy's face was a little deflated.
- In 2011, Snoopy's left paw was starting to wear out, due to the age of the balloon.
- 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.