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Archive for Sunday, November 30, 2003

Mickey Mouse collection swelling

Florida woman ‘obsessed’ with Disney character

November 30, 2003

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To say that Janet Esteves' collection is pretty Mickey Mouse is an understatement.

She isn't sure, but she estimates she has at least 5,000 Mickey Mouse-related items, at least 2,000 of them figurines of the Disney star. She's just recently started an inventory in hopes of getting into the Guinness Book of World Records for having the world's largest Mickey Mouse collection.

"It's quite a sickness, really," said daughter Julie Esteves, wearing a Mickey Mouse jacket.

"Yeah, it's a disease," said her mother, who wore gold earrings in the familiar three-circle configuration representative of the rodent. "And it's all because of this obsession I have with Mickey Mouse."

Esteves, of Palm City, Fla., remembers getting her first Mickey Mouse figurine when she was growing up in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

"It was back in the late 1950s," she said. "My father traveled a lot to California on business, and he started bringing Mickeys back to me."

Esteves also got to be a fan of "The Mickey Mouse Club" TV show. "Who didn't love Annette Funicello?" she asks.

She has about 50 pairs of Mouseketeer ears, including one autographed by Funicello.

"I like his smile," Esteves said, explaining her fascination with Mickey. "I like a character who's always smiling."

For that reason, she doesn't buy figurines with a frowning or grimacing Mickey.

"I do have one with a frown," she admitted, "but I don't show that one very much."

The Esteveses have a few pieces with other Disney characters (Julie particularly likes Sleeping Beauty), but her mom concentrates on Mickey.

There are, for example, no Minnie Mouse figurines in the house.

If Esteves talks about Minnie at all, she uses the kind of tone one might use to describe a harlot and a home wrecker.

"I don't even like to say her name," she said. "Maybe it's because I'm jealous. People say Mickey and, you know, her are married. Well, Mickey's not married. I like to think that he's my boyfriend."

Mickey may not be married, but Janet Esteves is. How does Jose Esteves feel about his wife's flirtatious fixation?

"I don't feel competition from a mouse," he said.

"He's very supportive," Janet Esteves said.

The Esteveses, in fact, negotiate for space to display their collections. Mickey has run of the west wing of their house.

Jose's robots are relegated to his office; he got the family room for his guitar collection in exchange for a guest bedroom now known as the "Fantasia" room because statues of Mickey in his role as "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" from the Disney movie dominate the decor. Another bedroom is simply "Mickey's room" because it holds the vast majority of Esteves' treasured trinkets.

The master bedroom officially is neutral, although each night Esteves' head hits a Mickey Mouse pillow.

How big will the collection be in 10 years? Will the stacks of Mickeys make it difficult to maneuver through the halls of the Esteves home?

"I hope so!" Esteves exclaims, her face brightening at the possibility. "Really, as long as that mouse makes me smile, I'll keep collecting him."

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