Snoopy is a fictional character in the popular comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. The pet beagle of 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.
Woodstock is a fictional character in Charles M. Schulz's comic strip Peanuts. He is Snoopy's Best Friend, and was named in 1970 after The Woodstock Festival of 1969.
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. It would continue through all Parades until 1982 when the balloon was, once again, 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 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. The balloon is speculated to still survive to this day.
Astronaut Snoopy (1969-1977)
Snoopy's second original balloon in the parade was as an astronaut, to commemorate the Apollo 11 space program. It uses a similar design to the previous Snoopy variant, but to simulate the appearance of an actual space suit, he wears a blue hat (looking like an astronaut's radio headset), blue boots, a backpack, and a red line on his white coat. So far, this is the longest-lasting Snoopy design. It would later be a reference for the future Astronaut Snoopy balloon in 2019.
Ice Skating Snoopy (1987)
After being absent the previous year, Snoopy returned to the parade in a 62-foot tall "Skating" variant. Due to the technological advancements since the original balloon's creation, this Snoopy became much more detailed and similar to his cartoon counterpart. Here he wears a large Macy's branded stocking hat, a scarf, and a huge pair of ice skates. This Snoopy balloon also appeared as a plush toy sold at Macy's stores, as he served as the Holiday Ambassador that year. This version was reworked after 1987.
Winter Snoopy and Woodstock (1988-1995)
Borrowing patterns from the previous balloon, Snoopy 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 the first-ever balloon to be accompanied by a novelty balloon. A re-creation of this balloon also appeared at a mall near the entrance of a Macy's store during the 2000 holiday season.
Millennium Snoopy (1999-2001)
After a four-year hiatus, 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.
Flying Ace Snoopy (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.
Snoopy and Woodstock (2013-2015)
After Charlie Brown took his place the previous year, Snoopy returned to lead the 2013 parade with Woodstock -making his first appearance since 1995- perched atop his head. A digital version of this balloon also appeared during the Thanksgiving update of the Snoopy's Street Fair mobile game that same year. After this version was retired in 2015, the balloon has since been used as a practice balloon for Balloon Handler Training events, usually in September or October.
Astronaut Snoopy 2.0 (2019-Present)
After three years of absence, Snoopy will make his grand return 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 third balloon after 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. This balloon will be the reason as to Charlie Brown's retirement, but despite that, he will still appear on the newly-redesigned Snoopy's Doghouse float. The balloon will measure at 49-feet tall, 43-feet long, and 29-feet wide.
Total appearances - 38 so far
- 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 1973, his right hand was bent and his chest was deflated.
- In 1975, Snoopy hit a lamppost at 73rd Street and collapsed, so he had to be removed.
- In 1976, 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, Aviator Snoopy almost crashed into a streetlight and traffic signals. Additionally, he sprung a leak shortly after his appearance on the NBC telecast.
- In 1982, Snoopy's tail was deflated along the parade route.
- In 1985, the Santa Claus list came off the Aviator Snoopy balloon and fell onto the ground when the balloon left the store. However, the balloon itself was not damaged.
- 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 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, Snoopy's right earmuffs and ear was a little deflated.
- In 1994, Snoopy's left skate was deflated.
- In 1995, Snoopy’s muzzle was ripped open by a lamppost at Herald Square shortly after his NBC telecast appearance, which is a possible reason why this version was retired afterwards.
- In 1999, Millennium Snoopy's right face near his nose 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.
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.
- He first appeared as a walkaround on 1983's America's Comic Stars float which replaced the Aviator Snoopy Balloon. replacement and debuted in 1983, The walkaround was retired with the float in 1984.
- In 2001, the beagle appeared on the 75 Parade Superstars 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.
- In 2002 Snoopy was on the new "Snoopy's Playground" float. However, it was not mentioned on the NBC television broadcast.
- In 2012, the costumed-character version of Snoopy returned on a "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.
The music 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" (Bell Version) (1988-1995)
- "Linus and Lucy" (Normal version) (1999-2001)
- "Linus and Lucy" (Marching Band remix) (2006-2011; 2013) also used for Charlie Brown
- "Linus and Lucy" (Remix; 2014-2015) also used for Charlie Brown.