Port Angeles woman, Mickey Mouse to fete 80th birthdays
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Lila Frisch shows some of her Mickey Mouse memorabilia in this photo taken shortly after she was grand marshal at Walt Disney World five years ago. -- Peninsula Daily News photo (2004)

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES -- Lila Frisch and Mickey Mouse have at least one thing in common: Nov. 18, 1928.

The Port Angeles woman and the Walt Disney icon are turning 80 on Tuesday, and Frisch -- an admitted Mickey aficionado -- will celebrate with a Mickey-themed party at her Fogarty Avenue home.

For Frisch, the party won't compare to that for her 75th birthday, when she was the grand marshal of a parade at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.

"You just can't imagine how that made me feel," Frisch said. "They treated like me like royalty. I figure I could never be treated so royally again."

Instead, Frisch will celebrate with her "Mickey people," as she calls fans of the squeaky-voiced cartoon character. And there are quite a few Mickey people in Port Angeles, Frisch said.

'Steamboat Willie'

Mickey Mouse was born when his first movie, "Steamboat Willie," previewed in New York City. He wears his age well, but his appearance has changed slightly through the years.

On the front porch of her house, Frisch has a 4-foot-tall wood carving of the "Steamboat Willie" Mickey holding his four-fingered hands open.

"I don't know what he's expecting," Frisch said.

Inside the house, Mickey can be found on books, stuffed animals, a full-sized movie poster, several albums of old cartoons, pocket watches and a Mickey-themed snow globe that Frisch believes could be the only one in existence.

"He's just the best thing that has ever happened to me," she says.

It took awhile for Mickey Mouse to make his way into Frisch's consciousness. Growing up on a farm in Michigan, she had no idea who Mickey Mouse was.

"I was just a little old farm girl," Frisch said. "I don't remember, when I was a kid, even seeing a cartoon."

She became aware of the fact that she and Mickey shared a birthday when she saw him on the cover of Life magazine on their 50th birthday in 1978.

Frisch and her husband kept a second home near Joyce. She lived in Bellevue for 40 years before moving to Port Angeles about 10 years ago.

For vacations, Frisch traveled to Disney World on four occasions, and to Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., once.

"I like [Disney World] better because of Epcot and all the other things they have besides the Magic Kingdom," Frisch said.

Party with Mickey

On a fateful trip to Orlando for her 70th birthday, a Disney employee gave Frisch his contact information and told her to call back when she turned 75. She's glad she did.

Her 75th birthday party and Disney parade were something Frisch will never forget. She danced with Mickey and met Michael Eisner, the CEO of Walt Disney Co. from 1982 to 2005.

"It was just spectacular," she said.

Frisch is expecting quite a few children on Tuesday at her house at 234 Fogarty Ave. She's serving seven dozen Mickey Mouse-head cookies for the little ones, and plans to show Mickey Mouse cartoons during the open house from 1 to 5 p.m.

"I hope I have time to visit with all my friends," Frisch said.


Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-417-3537 or at rob.ollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: November 17. 2008 4:50AM
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