Snoopy first appeared on October 4, 1950. But the precocious pup – who turned 65 years old in 2015 – doesn’t ever seem to age a day. And with his new “Peanuts” movie released in 2015, Snoopy is back in the spotlight, dancing, frolicking, and causing his signature loveable mayhem with the Peanuts gang.
Visitors to Santa Rosa may be surprised to see the many larger-than-life statues of Snoopy around town, plus statues of Charlie Brown, Woodstock and Lucy. That’s because cartoonist Schulz (also known as "Sparky") lived and worked in Santa Rosa from 1969 until his death in 2000, claiming Sonoma County as inspiration to fuel his international comic strip. In tribute, The City of Santa Rosa enlisted local artists to honor his talent with dozens of character statues, all individually decorated.
So beloved is the gang that the Santa Rosa Airport is official titled the Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport, with its own bronze sculptures, and a logo featuring Snoopy in World War I flying ace attire atop his Sopwith Camel (his doghouse, but he can dream).
Children love Peanuts. But Peanuts has a forever place in most adults’ hearts, too, as they grew up following Lucy’s unrequited love affair with Schroeder, and Pig Pen’s impossible attempts to stay clean. No matter the age, everyone finds fascination at the Charles M. Schulz Museum (2301 Hardies Lane, Santa Rosa, 707-549-4452), which spans 8,000 square feet of whimsy and art, including about 7,000 original cartoons, the largest collection in the world. Exhibitions are constantly changing, focusing on different themes in the Peanuts cartoons.
There's a re-creation of Sparky’s studio featuring the artist’s very own drawing board, a 100-seat theater that shows animated Peanuts specials, and “Morphing Snoopy,” a 43-layer wood piece created by Japanese artist Yoshiteru Otani that follows Snoopy’s evolution from a springer type dog on all four legs, to the upright beagle with a rich fantasy life that we all know and adore today. An outdoor courtyard beckons with the "kite-eating tree" that is Charlie Brown’s nemesis, next to a hedge labyrinth in the shape of Snoopy’s head.
For those who have dreamed up their own Snoopy, meanwhile, the museum offers classes in cartooning, animation, character design, and other arts throughout the year for children and adults of all skill levels.
The Peanuts crew was often seen skating in popular strips. So in tribute, Snoopy’s Home Ice (AKA Redwood Empire Ice Areana, 1667 W. Steel Lane, Santa Rosa, 707-546-7147) operates year-round just around the corner from the museum with open public skating and skate rental daily, plus lessons and more advanced freestyle sessions. Fans also love the broomball parties (a type of hockey played on a roughened ice surface in tennis shoes with yes, brooms).
To keep everyone energized through the fun, the Warm Puppy Café welcomes with a view of the skaters on the ice plus burgers, sandwiches, salads, hot soups, pizza, coffees, and hot chocolate. This was one of Schultz’ favorite places to grab a bite, himself, bringing extra fun in a Snoopy’s Special meal of a hot dog or sandwich, chips and drink served in an actual dog dish.
As an extra attraction, the nearby Children’s Museum of Sonoma County (1835 W. Steele Lane, Santa Rosa, 707-546-4069) is anchored by Mary’s Garden, covering an acre of play exhibitions like Ms. Caterpillar, solar operated butterflies, life size chrysalis, and water play tables. Designed for children age 10 and younger, the museum includes a Science and Imagination Gallery, with interactive exhibits providing hands-on play.
To get in the spirit, watch the “Peanuts” movie.
Snoopy is so proud.
Written by Sonoma Insider Carey Sweet.