Jan 15, 2008 01:55 PM EST

Smurfs Turn 50

Smurfs Turn 50
The Smurfs, the characters made popular by the early 80s cartoon, are turning 50 this year, and celebrating to the fullest. The festivities kicked off on Monday complete with Smurfberry Cake and sarsaparilla juice. The celebration of the anniversary will also be including a 3-D animation film to be released next year, a comic collection, and a remastered release of the cartoon series that began in the 80s. 

Pierre Culliford, or Peyo, as he is more commonly known,  was the one who started it all in October of 1958 with the release of a comic strip.  At that time they were called Schtroumpf, but eventually became known as Smurfs.  They were originally created as characters in his comic set in the Middle Ages, "Johan and Pirlouit".

Joining the celebration is Peyo's widow and two children, who will be starting the European tour in Brussels.  The celebration will then continue on to Paris and Berlin. 

Something else that the Smurfs will be taking on is the role of advocates.  UNICEF will be teaming up with the popular characters to promote children's rights and education worldwide, said Yves Willemont of UNICEF Belgium.  "The Smurfs and UNICEF have a lot of values in common -- values about joy, happiness and respect," Willemont said. "We also have in common the fact that we are dedicated to the cause of children and to the promotion of every child and the right of every child to survive."

The Smurfs haven't waned in popularity over the years. Adults who loved them as a child introduce their own children to the classic cartoon.  Hendrik Coysman, the managing director of IMPS who controls the rights of Smurfs, says,  "Thousands of fans are asking for more stories and these will be based of course on the fantastic asset that Peyo has left us."

Peyo died 15 years ago, but daughter Veronique Culliford said that he "would be very happy if he were here today" seeing the Smurfs celebrate their 50 birthday.

Pre-order your copy of Smurfs Season 1 on DVD today from Amazon.com for the sale price of 19.99

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