The Great Pumpkin is a mythical Halloween spirit whom, like Santa Claus, delivers toys to all good children everywhere. At least, that is what a small boy named Linus van Pelt believes. A devotee of the story, each year Linus searches for the perfect pumpkin patch in Hennepin County, Minnesota in hopes of catching a glimpse of The Great Pumpkin on Halloween night.
According to legend, The Great Pumpkin only rises from pumpkin patches that he thinks are the most sincere. Linus knows that if he shows any sign of doubt about the existence of the Great pumpkin, he would be “doomed” for such a thought would cause the Great Pumpkin to pass him by.
To make sure The Great Pumpkin knows Linus is a true believer, Linus always makes sure to write a “Dear Great Pumpkin” letter to tell his harvest season hero that he is looking forward to his arrival on Halloween night. And, of course, Linus hopes the Great Pumpkin will bring lots of presents.
Charlie Brown: Who are you writing to, Linus?
Linus: This is the time of the year to write to the Great Pumpkin. On Halloween night, the Great Pumpkin rises out of his pumpkin patch and flies through the air with his bag of toys for all the children.
Charlie Brown: You must be crazy. When are you going to stop believing in something that isn’t true?
Linus: When you stop believing in that fellow with the red suit and white beard who goes “HO! HO! HO!”.
Charlie Brown: We are obviously separated by denominational differences.
Linus (writing): You must get discouraged because more people believe in Santa Claus than in you. Well, let’s face it, Santa Claus has had more publicity; but being number two, perhaps you try harder. [Snoopy notices Linus writing his letter and laughs as Lucy approaches]
Lucy: Not again! Writing a letter to a stupid pumpkin?! You make me the laughingstock of the neighborhood! All they talk about is my little brother, who always writes to the Great Pumpkin. [grabs him by his shirt] You better cut it out right now or I’ll pound you!
Linus: There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin. [Patty walks by and also notices Linus writing the letter]
Patty: You’re wasting your time! The Great Pumpkin is a fake!
Linus: Everyone tells me you’re a fake, but I believe in you. [decides what to write next] P.S. If you really are a fake, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.
When Sally, the sister of Charlie Brown approaches Linus as he is writing a letter to the Great Pumpkin, he reveals with delight, “On Halloween night, the ‘Great Pumpkin’ rises out of the pumpkin patch, then flies through the air to bring toys to all the good little children everywhere. Wouldn’t you like to sit with me in the pumpkin patch on Halloween night and wait for the Great Pumpkin?” Sally, who has a crush on Linus answers, “Oh, I’d love to, Linus.”
Later that night, while Linus and Sally are waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arrive, the rest of the Peanuts gang go Trick or Treating. As the kids approach a house, they chant, “Trick or Treat, smell my feet” and then open their bags to get candy.
Every time Lucy van Pelt comes to a house, she asks, “Can I have an extra piece of candy for my stupid brother? He couldn’t come with us ’cause he’s sitting in a pumpkin patch waiting for the Great Pumpkin. It’s so embarrassing to have to ask for something extra for that blockhead Linus.”
Lucy: I got five pieces of candy!
Kid: I got a chocolate bar!
Another Kid: I got a quarter!
Charlie Brown: I got a rock.
Meanwhile, back at the pumpkin patch Sally says, “If anyone had told me I’d be waiting in a pumpkin patch on Halloween night, I’d have said they were crazy.” Suddenly, Linus hears rustling noises. “What’s that? What’s that? I hear the Great Pumpkin!”
Not far a way, a silhouette rises from the pumpkin patch. “THERE HE IS!” shouts Linus. “THERE HE IS! IT’S THE GREAT PUMPKIN! HE’S RISING OUT OF THE PUMPKIN PATCH!”
Linus becomes so excited he faints. As for the shadow in the pumpkin patch, it was only Snoopy, Charlie Brown’s dog dressed as a World War I Allied Flying Ace fighter pilot with goggles and scarf.
A few moments later, Linus wakes up and asks, “What happened? Did I faint? What did he leave us? Did he leave us any toys?”
Frustrated for wasting her time with Linus, Sally shouts, “I was robbed! I spent the whole night waiting for the Great Pumpkin, when I could’ve been out for tricks-or-treats! (gasps at what she just said) Halloween is over and I missed it! You blockhead! You kept me up all night waiting for the Great Pumpkin, and all that came was a beagle! I didn’t get a chance to go out for tricks-or-treats! And it was all your fault! I’ll sue! What a fool I was! I could’ve had candy, apples, and gum! And cookies and money and all sorts of things! But no! I had to listen to you. You blockhead. What a fool I was. Trick-or-treats come only once a year, and I miss it by sitting in a pumpkin patch with a blockhead. (she shakes Linus by his shirt) YOU OWE ME RESTITUTION!”
When Charlie Brown and the Peanuts Gang finish their Halloween party, they return to the pumpkin patch, at which time Linus says, “You’ve heard about fury in a woman scorned, haven’t you? Charlie Brown responds, “Yes, I guess I have.” To which, Linus replies, “Well, that’s nothing compared to the fury of a woman who has been cheated out of tricks-or-treats.”
As Sally and the other kids leave, Linus shouts, “Hey! Aren’t you gonna wait and greet the Great Pumpkin? Huh? It won’t be long now. If the Great Pumpkin comes, I’ll still put in a good word for you!” Linus suddenly realizes what he just said. “Good grief, I said if! I meant when he comes! I’m doomed. One little slip like that can cause the Great Pumpkin to pass you by. Frantic, Linus yells into the night, “OH GREAT PUMPKIN, WHERE ARE YOU?!”
Linus continues his vigil alone, but soon he is unable to keep his eyes open and falls asleep. Later, his sister Lucy retrieves her sleepy brother from the pumpkin patch and leads him off to bed. The next morning, Linus meets with Charlie Brown to discuss the business of the day.
Charlie Brown: Well, another Halloween has come and gone.
Linus: Yes, Charlie Brown.
Charlie Brown: I don’t understand it. I went trick-or-treating and all I got was a bag full of rocks! I suppose you spent all night in the Pumpkin Patch. And the Great Pumpkin never showed up?
Charlie Brown: Well, don’t take it too hard, Linus. I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my life too.
Linus: STUPID? WHAT DO YOU MEAN STUPID? Just wait ’til next year, Charlie Brown. You’ll see! Next year at this same time, I’ll find a pumpkin patch that is real sincere! And I’ll sit in that pumpkin patch until the Great Pumpkin appears. He’ll rise out of that pumpkin patch and he’ll fly through the air with his bag of toys. The Great Pumpkin will appear! And I’ll be waiting for him! I’ll be there! I’ll be sitting there in that pumpkin patch…and I’ll see the Great Pumpkin. Just wait and see, Charlie Brown. I’ll see that Great Pumpkin. I’ll SEE the Great Pumpkin! Just you wait, Charlie Brown. The Great Pumpkin will appear and I’ll be waiting for him!”
NOTE: The 1966 TV special “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” was parodied in “It’s The Grand Pumpkin, Milhouse,” on the THE SIMPSONS Halloween episode, “Treehouse of Horror XIX.” where Milhouse waits in a pumpkin patch on Halloween for the Grand Pumpkin. When the Grand Pumpkin materializes, it is appalled that people are carving pumpkins and seeks revenge by devouring humans.
At Planet Snoopy, a Peanuts-themed area at amusement parks around the country, there are “Great Pumpkin” related rides and attractions including, The Pumpkin Patch at Canada’s Wonderland and California’s Great America; and the Great Pumpkin Coaster at King’s Dominion and King’s Island.
There is also an annual “Great Pumpkin Fest” at the Planet Snoopy section of the Carowinds Theme Park in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Linus van Pelt
c/o Hennepin County, MN
It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! – Beginning (Video)
It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! – Trick or Treating (Video)
It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! – In the Pumpkin Patch (Video)
It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! – The Next Morning (Video)
Great Pumpkin Island Computer Game (Video)