A decade before his passing in 2000, Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz named tennis legend Billie Jean King as one of his top three personal heroes.
"She did so much for women's sports," he said. "And she's such a bright lady and so involved in everything she's done."
King, who created and sits on the board of the Women's Sports Foundation, will pay tribute to Schulz's enduring legacy in a moderated conversation Sunday at the Charles M. Schulz Museum & Research Center in Santa Rosa -- and if anything is worth a trip up U.S. 101 on the upcoming three-day weekend, it's this. King's appearance marks the opening of the exhibit Leveling the Playing Field, which features Schulz's leading ladies working at and discussing their favorite sports in honor of the 40th anniversary of the passing of Title IX, the legislation that ensures gender equality and access in federally funded sports programs.
The Museum and Research Center has incredible character and some fascinating artifacts, including the wall of a former home with a rare Peanuts mural as well as Schulz's creative nerve center -- his office -- lovingly preserved. It is a must-see for anyone who is a fan of his imagination.
As the exhibit shows, Schulz spent time coaching local women's softball, yet he was (and really continues to be) a great supporter of ice skating, a sport that his family ardently loved and participated in for many years. The Museum and Research Center's neighboring Redwood Empire Ice Arena (also known as Snoopy's Home Ice) offers one of the best ice surfaces in the Bay Area, set in a charming chalet-style environment. There's a Warm Puppy Cafe for snacks and to watch the skaters, just as Schulz (best known locally as "Sparky") himself did almost every day.
Billie Jean King appears at 1 p.m. Sunday (Jan. 15) at the Charles M. Schulz Museum & Research Center, 2301 Hardies Lane, Santa Rosa. Admission is $5-$10.