City says goodbye to 'Snoopy Hall'

It was the day after Christmas, and the "psychiatric" doctor was out.

By Wednesday morning, the holiday crowds were long gone from Lucy's help booth. The time this year for the Snoopy House display at Costa Mesa City Hall was winding down, as nearby helpers took away portions of the festive trees lining the covered walkway.

Among them was Brenda Emrick, community education officer with the Costa Mesa Fire Department. It was her idea to have city departments and the community compete for the best tree.

"I guess we'll hopefully call it the first annual holiday tree-decorating contest," she said with a laugh. Behind her, a colleague began taking away the fire hose that, since Dec. 14, was wrapped around the department's tree like a snake.

Some visitors to the Snoopy House, which the city hosted for a second year after it left its 44-year home in the Eastside, wrote letters that were sent to the Costa Mesa Senior Center. Others submitted their New Year's resolutions. Emrick read a few of them.

Do better in school, live a happier life, "resolute stuff" and one along the lines of "clean the clutter of out my house and not hoard stuff" were among the promises made.

Dan Joyce, the city's public affairs manager, estimated that as many as 7,000 visitors came to see and hear the 46-year-old display. The Snoopy House at "Snoopy Hall" opened Dec. 14 to a small ceremony that included city officials, Snoopy from Knott's Berry Farm and Jill Schulz, daughter of "Peanuts" creator Charles M. Schulz.

The display ran through Christmas Day. This year it had more set pieces, City Hall had a choreographed light show and 14 groups performed.

"This is becoming Costa Mesa's 'It's a Wonderful Life' for Christmas," Joyce said.

Onlookers came from as far as Riverside and Los Angeles, and a few were international folks in Costa Mesa for the holidays, he said.

"There were some nights here that it was completely crowded all the way through," Joyce said. "I think everybody liked the layout, the involvement and the light show on City Hall."

And after it's all taken down, what next?

Jim Jordan, who created the Snoopy House, is already talking Christmas 2013, according to Joyce.

"I heard a bigger display," he said. "There could be a City Hall caricature in the works, maybe something else that the public would enjoy."

In the meantime, it's going to be work to remove the hay covering the lawn and the many "Peanuts"-themed cutouts.

"It's hard work. It's hard work to set up, and it's hard work to tear it down," Joyce said. "But when you see the people here laughing and little kids dancing with the Charlie Brown music and the snow going, that makes it worth it."

Twitter: @bradleyzint

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