We have finally tracked down the Mize family of Marinwood to ask them about their famous Mickey Mouse Christmas House. Created by Marin native and avid Mickey Collector, Les Mize of Marinwood, CA, this delightful lighted landmark is just part of his collection.
Les’s daughter, Eileen Mize was kind enough to send us a brief summary of the most common questions they get about her dad, family and their obsession with Mickey.
Les Mize, the Mize Family, and the Mickey Mouse Christmas House
As a native of Marin, Les Mize is thrilled to be able to bring Christmas joy with a Disney twist to the people of his community and beyond. What started as a fun way to display a burgeoning collection at Christmastime, a favorite holiday of Les and his wife of 45 years, Patty, has turned into an annual Christmas display destination for families near and far that spans multiple generations. Les and Patty have raised six children, some of whom still reside in Marin, with the others not too far away, and are now enjoying four grandchildren. Les is known affectionately as Papa ‘Mic’ by his grandchildren, while his Marinwood home has been dubbed, the Mickey Mouse Christmas House.
Les started collecting Mickey Mouse and Disney memorabilia in the mid-seventies after his first visit to Disneyland. He was so taken with every aspect of the magic kingdom that he began filling his home with toys and collectibles—not a bad hobby when you have six children. Already a long time fan of Christmas with festive light displays and other decorations, incorporating his growing collection became just another aspect of the Mize family holiday décor. This tradition has grown quite a bit over the years and it is most certainly a family effort. There are established “work-weekends” for major set-up and take-down, as it is a lot of work. Decorating starts immediately after Halloween and takes the better part of a month to put together. Patty has played a key role in orchestrating the decorations and accommodating Les’s new acquisitions, as he is still collecting!
Les is an active member of his community as a 49-year member of Lions Club and charter president of his local club, serves on various boards and committees, and volunteers at community events. He has been in sales in the commercial printing industry for more than forty years, and his affinity toward all-things Mickey Mouse has proved successful in his business relations, as various clients and colleagues have referred to him as “Mickey Mouse” over the years –always sporting a Mickey watch, necktie, socks, shirt, and other items. His office at work is entirely decorated with Mickey Mouse collectibles, often making it a ‘stop’ on plant tours.
Les and Patty enjoy trips to Disneyland to checkout the newest attractions, the latest parades and entertainment, and especially holiday decorations—particularly Halloween and Christmas. They are also enjoying being able to visit Disneyland with their grandchildren.
1. Mickey, Goofy, Donald “Fife and Drum”
An affinity for Mickey Mouse intersected with a passion for patriotism, and collector Les Mize saw a piece he had to have. It was a visit to Disneyland in 1976 where Les enjoyed festive “Spirit of ’76” parades and bicentennial celebrations that only Main Street U.S.A. could deliver, and when he saw this porcelain figurine in a shop on Main Street, he knew he had to bring it home. While the dollar amount was not great, the sentimental value of this early piece still makes this fab trio a stand-out in his immense collection.
2. Sorcerer’s Apprentice from Walt Disney’s “Fantasia”
This porcelain figurine of Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice from Walt Disney’s “Fantasia” is a limited edition piece signed by the artist, Giuseppe Armani, and represents a part of Les Mize’s collection that stretches the globe. The late Italian sculptor Giuseppe Armani, a charming old-world artist who Les and Patty were fortunate enough to meet at a Disneyana Convention in Epcot in the mid 90s, teamed up with Disney in the 90s to create some classic characters in his masterful Capodimonte style. This was at a time when Disney was reaching out to other renowned international artists and manufacturers in creative partnerships that broadened the scope for collectors like Les; some such partnerships included Waterford Crystal (Ireland), Limoge (France), Goebel (Germany), Lladro (Spain), and Armani (Italy) to name a few. Les is proud to have many of these pieces in his collection. There is a Limoge box of “Steamboat Willie” and Waterford Crystal Mouse Ears on the table next to Les in the photo as a token example.
About Les’ Collection
Representing 40+ years of collection, Les’ Mickey Mouse menagerie contains 10,000+ pieces not even taking into account his closet full of t-shirts, sweatshirts, neckties, wristwatches, and more. The Marin Magazine photo contains about 50 collectibles—mere tokens largely featuring a Christmas theme!
A vast collection that encompasses fine art from original Disney artists who worked with Walt himself, to collectible figurines, games, toys, music, movies, household items, garden statuary, apparel, barware and dishes, volumes of books, sporting equipment, and much more, this collection has become Les’ signature trademark—a gimmick that has served this career salesman well. Loving husband and father of six, Les is now called Papa Mic by 3 granddaughters and a grandson, with hopefully more on the way. A regular convention attendee, Les holds a “Mouse-ters” and a Duck-toreate,” is a Charter member of the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, and is a veteran season pass holder at Disneyland. His backyard sitting area is fondly referred to as Club Mic, his entire family is referred to as Team Mize, and together they light up the house at Christmas time in what has widely become known and revered as a neighborhood treasure—the Mickey Mouse Christmas House. Team Mize and the Mickey Mouse Christmas House was feature in ABC’s inaugural season of the hit show “The Great Christmas Light Fight,” now in its second season.
Some Interesting Decorating Numbers
- 17 decorators in the family crew (3 generations at work!)
- 21 full days of decorating (approx. 294 hours)
- 40 years of collecting Mickey Mouse
- 45 years of extensive Christmas decorating
- 200,000 lights in the outside display (probably that many more inside the house)
- Nearly 1,000 Mickey’s in the garage display alone!
- 10,000 visitors over a 3-week period
Check out this great gallery of the Mize’s Mickey Mouse Christmas House.
Mimi Towle has been the editor of Marin Magazine for over a decade. She lived with her family in Sycamore Park and Strawberry and thoroughly enjoyed raising two daughters in the mayhem of Marin’s youth sports; soccer, swim, volleyball, ballet, hip hop, gymnastics and many many hours spent at Miwok Stables. Her community involvements include volunteering at her daughter’s schools, coaching soccer and volleyball (glorified snack mom), being on the board of both Richardson Bay Audubon Center. Currently residing on a floating home in Sausalito, she enjoys all water activity, including learning how to steer a 6-person canoe for the Tamalpais Outrigger Canoe Club. Born and raised in Hawaii, her fondness for the islands has on occasion made its way into the pages of the magazine.