The Pumpkins are Out

Linus must be checking to find the most sincere pumpkin patch. Will it be near you?

Sparky used to say that Halloween was the perfect holiday because there were no expectations. (Now that I think of it, I hadn’t heard of him creating costumes, but I don’t doubt that he became involved.)

Across from the Schulz Museum, Snoopy’s Home Ice has put on a wonderful It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown event for many years. Before the event, the staff of the entire Schulz complex have a pumpkin carve-a-thon to carve 100 jack-o-lanterns to decorate the trick-or-treat trail. At the event, young trick-or-treaters and their families follow the trail to collect spooky Halloween toys and at dark (unless it is raining) they enjoy a showing of the animated special on an outdoor screen. It is a wonderful way for families to enjoy a safe evening adventure.

Once October is over (before the Halloween candy is even finished) we run right into planning for Thanksgiving. Each year the Museum holds a Thanksgiving Feast with Snoopy featuring all the goodies that Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang cook up for the occasion: jelly beans, popcorn, and buttered toast (I think we add frosting and sprinkles). It is truly a bit much, but parents and children are allowed to indulge themselves for one day.

Of course, we show the 1973 animated special A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving in the Museum’s theater throughout the month of November and during the feast.

I can remember at the time Bill Melendez, Lee Mendelson, and Sparky talking about some common Thanksgiving traditions that they incorporated into the animated feature. And at the end of the show as the Peanuts Gang in the back of the station wagon sing, “Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go” Charlie Brown points out that there is one thing wrong: “My grandmother lives in a condominium.”

Last year there was some discussion about Franklin sitting alone on one side of the backyard table in the Thanksgiving special. While it can’t be known now which animator drew that particular scene, you can be sure there was no ulterior motive. Sparky created Franklin’s character out of sincerity with the intention of inclusiveness.

I fall back on Peppermint Patty’s apology to Charlie Brown explaining she meant no harm when she criticized his poor Thanksgiving offering, which goes something like: “There are enough problems in the world already without these misunderstandings.” To suggest the show had any other messages than the importance of family, sharing, and gratitude is to look for an issue where there is none.

The music for the special was composed by Vince Guaraldi and features Guaraldi’s vocal performance of the song “Little Birdie.” At a Hollywood showing some of the show’s great animated sequences were applauded, and it earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Children’s Special that year.

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving remain favorites among fans, many of whom re-watch the programs each autumn and share the joy of Peanuts with their kids and grandkids. We look forward to keeping this tradition alive here at the Museum and hope you will join us for one of our many holiday events!

 —Jean Schulz


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