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Happy Smurfday! Belgium's blue men turn 50

Happy Smurfday! Belgium's blue men turn 50
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And it’s a very happy smurfday to the Smurfs, who celebrate their 50th anniversary this year. The little blue people first appeared half a century ago, quickly winning fame and fortune in their native Belgium, before going on to conquer the rest of the world.

The deputy director of Brussels’ Comic Strip Centre is Willem de Graeve: “Many people, all over the world, know the Smurfs, but few know they are Belgian. A lot of people think they are American. It is not surprising, because the Americans Hanna and Barbera made the cartoon version in the 80s, and it was very popular.”

The Smurfs take pride of place at the Comic Strip Centre, with visitors young and old lining up for photos.

The Smurfs aren’t just cute; in 2005 they helped UNICEF raise 100,000 euros to rehabilitate child soldiers in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.