Architect Lawrence Simons had a sculpture of Peanuts character Lucy bronzed and placed at Stony Point Lakes in Santa Rosa, where he works. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2010

'Peanuts on Parade' project resurrected as artists gather this month to paint Charlie Brown's pal

Recognized worldwide as the crabbiest fussbudget on the planet, she dispenses cranky psychiatric advice at a sidewalk stand for a nickel.

And every fall, she promises to hold the football for Charlie Brown to kick but she always pulls it away at the last moment. She says the experience will build up Charlie's character.

She's really just an ink drawing on paper, but Lucy van Pelt, from Charles Schulz's "Peanuts" comic strip, is a major celebrity, instantly recognizable and arguably immortal. Even though Schulz died in 2000, Lucy and her pals live on in daily reprints.

Lucy will become a three-dimensional presence on the streets of Santa Rosa this summer in the form of 30 four-foot-tall, polyurethane statues, each decorated by local artists. The "paint-off" will be held May 20-23 at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, and the statues will appear around town after that.

"We picked Lucy because everybody wanted Lucy," said Craig Schulz, the late cartoonist's son. "I got a lot of feedback about that."

From 2005 through 2007, the Schulz family and the City of Santa Rosa placed more than 200 statues of Charlie Brown, Woodstock and Snoopy at sites all over Santa Rosa through a collaborative project called "Peanuts on Parade."

At the end of each summer, the statues were auctioned off to raise money for art scholarships and for permanent bronze "Peanuts" character statues, now at Santa Rosa's Finley Center and the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport.

Most of the lavishly decorated polyurethane "Peanuts" statues, while privately owned, still remain visible to the public all over town.

Schulz said his family and the city decided to bring the Lucy statues this year as an "encore" to the original three-year run because there was enough money for one more summer, on a slightly smaller scale.

There is also enough to pay for a third permanent bronze "Peanuts" sculpture, Schulz said.

This year, there will be no auctions. Half of the 30 statues will be sold to private sponsors for $3,500 apiece. The city will retain control of the remaining half of the statues and will place them permanently at public sites.

"We wanted to have some of the statues, so they could be permanently on display in Santa Rosa," said Pat Fruiht, marketing and outreach coordinator for the City of Santa Rosa.

One of the sponsors from the first three years of "Peanuts on Parade" is prominent Santa Rosa architect Larry Simons. He's not taking part this year, because he already has a Lucy statue.

When the program ostensibly ended three years ago, he also bought Linus and Lucy statues from TivoliToo, the company that manufactured the figures both for Santa Rosa and for an earlier, similar program in St. Paul, Minn., Charles Schulz's childhood hometown.

The cartoonist moved his family to Sonoma County in 1958, settling first in Sebastopol and later Santa Rosa, where he died in 2000 after writing and drawing the comic strip for nearly 50 years.

Simons had his whole collection of five statues bronzed for display on Stony Point Road near his architectural firm's offices.

"The Schulz family is a big part of Santa Rosa and Sonoma County history," Simons said. "This program is a great way to recognize a great man."

Reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at 521-5243 or dan.taylor@pressdemocrat.com.

See his ARTS blog at http://arts.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.

Dan Taylor

Arts & Entertainment, The Press Democrat

Do you take fun seriously? I know I do. Tell me what you want to know about arts and entertainment in the North Bay to make the best use of your leisure time and money. As a longtime local arts journalist, I have learned where to look and who to ask.

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