“Our house had a typical Minnesota basement with an open area beneath the stairs. The space beneath the stairs and the supporting post was about six feet and made a pretty good facsimile of a hockey goal. Being very accommodating, my grandmother would take a broom that I gave her and stand in front of this make-believe goal while I shot tennis balls at her with a hockey stick. I like to think she made a lot of great saves.”
Charles M. Schulz (1985)
After Charles Schulz moved to sunny California in 1958, he began to miss his time on the ice. While there were several ice rinks in Northern California at the time, there was only one in Sonoma County. By the end of the 1960s, that rink had to be closed due to structural issues and so Schulz and his family had a new ice rink built in the newly developed northwest neighborhood of Santa Rosa. They opened the rink to the public in 1969 and called it the Redwood Empire Ice Arena, designing it with a Swiss Alps village theme to make it one of the prettiest ice rinks in the world.
Peanuts strip originally published on October 9, 1968
At the Redwood Empire Ice Arena, Schulz would play in a “pick-up” game each Tuesday night with his sons, Monte and Craig, and hockey players from the local community. Charles Schulz supported the growth of youth hockey groups and local figure skating clubs, served as a referee, and in 1975 he established Snoopy’s Senior Hockey Tournament. This tournament allowed players aged 40 and over to come to Santa Rosa each summer and play others in their age groups. Schulz belonged to the Diamond Icers team, wearing jersey number 9.
The Redwood Empire Ice Arena or “Snoopy’s Home Ice” is still going strong and Snoopy’s Senior Hockey Tournament is still held every July. It continues to be a favorite with participants, and those observing from the stands, attracting many former National Hockey League players and teams from around the world including Austria, Canada, Finland, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and even Australia.