Happy New Year!

More than 1100 guests and members visited the museum on Monday, December 31st, the last day of 2012. The majority of the visitors came with children and grandchildren for the two “balloon drops,” but many others just happened upon us that day. Those who came enjoyed the pure pleasure of the event, as well as the exhibitions. When we do these events we are carrying out Sparky’s dictum that some things should be done just for the pure joy of doing it.

The balloons are gathered up at the ceiling, ready to be dropped.

The countdown begins as the numbers float up.

At the count of 1, the balloons come down!

I had already thought of talking about the Peanuts hour which aired on ABC a few days earlier. It was the “double-bill” of Happy New Year, Charlie Brown and She’s a Good Skate, Charlie Brown. The New Year’s show was first broadcast on New Year’s day, 1986, and Sparky declared it to be “just good, innocent entertainment.”

The second show, which we call, Good Skate, was one that Sparky went out on a limb for. It happened that Woodstock had whistled songs in the strip, and Sparky and Lee Mendelson, the producer of the TV shows, talked about Woodstock whistling the music for Peppermint Patty during a skating competition.

Mary Ellen Kinsey-Rudee, one of the instructors at Snoopy’s Home Ice, was the skating model for Peppermint Patty.

Lee called various music unions to find a whistler, and they found Jason Serinus. Jason sent a tape and then came to visit. When we heard him in person, none of us could believe how great he was at his craft.

Sparky well knew the trials skaters go through preparing for competitions (choosing music, establishing the steps, endless practice, finding a costume, etc.) We had both been in the audience when a skater’s prepared tape malfunctioned, and the poor skater suffered the consequences. Thus came the idea of Woodstock saving the day for Peppermint Patty and Coach Snoopy.

Coach Snoopy experiences a serious equipment malfunction!

Woodstock wondering…can I do it?

Woodstock whistles the beautiful “O mio babbino Caro,” from the Puccini opera, Gianni Schicci.

As I recall, Jason did his recording in “one take,” and when he gets to the middle of the melody it always brings a tear to my eye. This same melody, one of Sparky’s favorites, was used again in the 1999 show, It’s your Best Birthday, Charlie Brown. Linus hears this song coming over a garden fence and is immediately infatuated.

Toni Littlejohn, daughter of animator Bill Littlejohn who worked on many Peanuts specials including Good Skate, said that Woodstock whistling for Peppermint Patty was one of her Dad’s favorite scenes.

Lee commented, “as I watched the skating I realized that there were no other cartoon characters in history that could pull that off.”

— Jean Schulz



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