Quite a mouseful

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson Don and Barb McKenzie stand with their Mickey Mouse snow globe yard decoration, one of 17 inflatable Mickey items at their house on Ray Hardy Drive. The couple has displayed Mickey Mouse items for the last 12 years.

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

Barb and Don McKenzie run a real Mickey Mouse operation.

Each Christmas, the couple fills their living room and front yard to the mouse ears with dolls, figurines and anything else you can imagine fashioned after the famous Disney character.

Located on the end of Ray Hardy Drive, the house with 17 Mickey Mouse inflatable displays is a can’t-miss from Norris Street, and has been known as the Mickey Mouse House for the last dozen Decembers in Clovis.

“I look out the window, and I swear, every car stops,” said Don, who settled down in Clovis in 1997 after his retirement from General Electric. “It keeps the kid in you.”

It keeps them busy, as well. Barb, the catalyst for the collection, said the couple usually starts setting up Christmas decorations the first week of November, after they’ve taken down their Halloween Mickey display (there are also Mickeys for Easter and Independence Day).

Don says they do all the work — about six weeks worth — because their seven grandchildren and countless kids in Clovis look forward to it and ask about it months in advance.

Unless there’s inclement weather, the Mickey inflatables get set up every morning, and they’re put away nightly in their individual boxes to guard against precipitation.

They surround a window full of Mickey Mouse displays, and further inside is the living room Barb calls her “Mickey mantle.” The two figure there are fewer than 10,000 Mickey Mouse items in the house, but know the total is easily in the thousands.

Easily, there are 400-plus Mickey items in the living room, which includes a spinning tree with 250 small plush figures and an animated Santa Mickey figure where the star normally goes. Above the television set lies years worth of promotional JC Penney snow globes, each representing a 4:30 a.m. trip on Black Friday. And on the fireplace are animated music boxes that ring out holiday tunes.

“You can’t get them anymore,” Don said, “so I look for old ones to get parts to fix them. Every now and then, I find one on eBay.”

Some Mickey items, friends and family buy, but Barb usually has a nose for the ears.

“You walk into a store, you don’t see Mickey,” Don said. “It yells out to her.”

The holiday display has steadily built over the years, with its humble beginnings — a plastic Mickey and Minnie purchased in 1997 at the Clovis K-Mart — sitting in the hallway.

A few strides away is the bathroom, originally Mickey’s lone territory.

“This is where he started,” Don said. “I figured, ‘He’ll never get out of there.’”

Though the couple has been displaying Mickey for 12 holidays, Barb said the collecting has been going on for nearly 25 years — and there’s no telling when a new set of ears is coming home.

“If we can find one, it’s mine. I found a new one today,” as she motioned to her latest, a six-inch plush with a red snowflake-embossed sweater.