Smith: Schools Plus fundraiser goes online; Snoopy out at Metlife

There will be no Night Under the Lights for Schools Plus this year. But take a moment to look up and contribute to their online fundraiser.|

Autumn in Santa Rosa isn’t the same without Night Under the Lights.

It was a rousing dinner party that showcased the artistic talents of Santa Rosa middle school and high school students and raised substantial dollars for all manner of secondary-school enhancement programs.

There will be no Night Under the Lights this year.

After six years, “it just became too much for an all-volunteer board and organization made up of good people who also have demanding personal lives,” John Bribiescas said.

He grew up in Santa Rosa, benefited from its public schools, became a teacher and co-founded Schools Plus to generate money for athletics, music, field trips and other frequently imperiled but essential aspects of school life.

To date, Schools Plus has collected and presented to the schools about $8 million.

The volunteer organization, which years ago raised money through a grand telethon, is once again taking pause to consider how best to move forward.

Bribiescas and the current board welcome newcomers. If you’re interested in being part of the next era of the 26-year-old Schools Plus, contact the group through

Oh, and there is this: Though there won’t be a 2016 Night Under the Lights, our neighbors running Schools Plus are raising important dollars with Bridge the Gap, an online appeal and raffle.

Go to the Schools Plus website, click on Bridge the Gap, and you’ll see donations in any amount are welcome to maintain school funding that’s not available from other sources.

And anyone who donates $500, $1,000, $1,500 or $2,000 will be entered in drawings for quite nice prizes. The drawings will happen Nov. 6 and will be live on Facebook.

It’s harsh enough to be heading into autumn without a Night Under the Lights. But no wants to imagine life in Santa Rosa without Schools Plus.


PITY NOT SNOOPY: It made the New York Times for insurance giant MetLife to announce that after 30-plus years, it is phasing out Snoopy and the “Peanuts” gang as the faces of the company’s extensive, expensive marketing campaigns.

“MetLife is firing Snoopy,” proclaimed the Times.

It’s a setback, certainly, for the world’s most beloved canine character and for the rest of the Charlie Brown menagerie, orphaned 16 years by the death of creator Charles Schulz at his Santa Rosa home.

But rest assured, Snoopy et al are doing just fine, as is the Schulz family’s stewardship of the creative, global empire that grew from a fairly private man’s love of doodling drawings and speech- or thought-balloons that might charm or tickle a reader of the newspaper funny pages.

“The ‘Peanuts’ brand is as vibrant as ever,” said Melissa Menta, an executive with Peanuts Worldwide and Iconix Brand Group.

Earlier this year, the new “Peanuts” movie co-written by Schulz’s son, Craig, and grandson, Bryan, drew huge crowds. Just prior to Wednesday night’s final presidential debate, the most-watched program on TV was the 50th-year screening of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

So Snoopy lost the big MetLife account. But he’ll get by without life insurance. He and the other characters born in the playful imagination of Sparky Schulz show signs of living, and delighting, forever.

Chris Smith is at 707-21-5211 and

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