Published : Wednesday, February 14, 2018 | 6:25 AM
The couple behind the world-famous Bunny Museum – “The Hoppiest Place on Earth” – celebrate the 25th anniversary of a very special moment in their lives with a open-to-the-public Valentine’s Day bash on Wednesday in Altadena, just north of where it all began in Pasadena.
Founders and curators Candace Frazee and Steve Lubanski began their hoppy journey on Valentine’s Day in 1993 after Lubanksi gave Candace, his then-girlfriend, a loveable bunny toy – and would continue to do so each and every day since.
Over the years the couple’s collection has made it into the Guinness Book of World Records, upgraded to a bigger location, and now amassed a whopping 35,000 toy bunnies that fill the museum from floor to ceiling in a collection that continues to grow.
“My husband gave me the first bunny on Valentine’s Day because I started calling him ‘Honey Bunny’ when we were dating. So Valentine’s is very, very special to us,” said Bunny Museum co-founder Candace Frazee. “The museum is a love story.”
Frazee and Lubanksi’s original 8,000 item collection they debuted in 1998 would have been enough to impress anyone, considering the museum doubled, and still does, as the couple’s home.
Then just one year later in 1999, the bunny lovers made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for the most bunny items in the world.
Today, number has more than quadrupled.
“It’s not a full-time job, it’s a full-time love. When you love bunnies or when you love something, it’s not a chore, it’s not a job, it’s just what you love to do,” said Frazee.
The Bunny Museum made a much-needed move seven months ago to a bigger location 2605 Lake Avenue in Altadena.
“So much has changed,” said Frazee about the past 25 years.
Frazee said the museum is now open to the public every day, which is a big change since the early days of the museum, when it was available to view by appointment only.
Not to be missed on a visit to the Museum: its bunny-themed restrooms.
“I always tell people to go to the washroom even if you don’t have to, because they’re bunnified. There are paintings on the walls, the toilet paper holder is a bunny – everything is bunny. The mirror is bunny shaped, everything is bunny in the bathrooms,” said Frazee.
Frazee’s acquisition of new bunny items comes from donations and daily searches. Frazee reveals the best time of the year to find bunnies in bulk.
“You’re guaranteed new items every Easter, which is so great,” said Frazee. “Every store from the grocery store to the shoe store, every store has bunny items for sale in their store.”
While Easter makes for a perfect shopping season bunny buying, Frazee said those only account for a small percentage of the Museum’s bunny intake.
“We’re not shopping every day,” said Frazee. “We’re giving each other a bunny everyday.”
Frazee admits it is challenging to find new bunny items any other time of the year because most people collect other animals, like puppies and kittens. which are typically found year-round in big stores.
Toy bunny hunting?
“It’s an antique store and yard sale that kind of thing,” said Frazee.
Among their always-expanding collection, there are ceramic bunnies, stuffed bunnies, cookie-jar bunnies and a giant rabbit topiary on the front lawn, according to Offbeat L.A.
Some oddities even include freeze-dried rabbits that are kept in a glass that were once household pet bunnies.
Frazee describes the museum as less of a typical museum atmosphere and more of a place where people feel emotional reactions.
“It throws them back to their childhood. A lot of people will see toys from their childhood,” said Frazee.
She recalls a powerful moment when she made an exception with the museum rules for an older man who was overwhelmed with emotions.
“He cried because he saw his toy and we allowed him — we don’t like people to touch things in the museum — but we allowed him to hold the toy,” said Frazee.
Frazee says she and her husband always envisioned the museum making it to 25 years and beyond.
“It’s very exciting, it’s a great accomplishment to be alive to see the museum grow,” said Frazee.
The recent move and the addition of thousands of bunny items still leaves a lot of work left for the couple to finish.
All of the items required over 500 packed boxes to make the move to the new location.
“We have not finished putting everything out yet,” said Frazee, who said she has about 25 boxes of items left to put on display.
Frazee hopes to have everything out on display by March 20, the date of the 20-year celebration of the Museum’s opening.
The community is invited to join the Bunny Museum’s 25th Anniversary Party on Wednesday from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Dress code is, naturally, Bunny attire, and the party includes bunny friendly (vegetarian) food and refreshments.
The Bunny Museum will be closed February 14 during the day. Tickets are $18 and kids under the age of 4 are free.
For more information call: 626-798-8848 or go to www.thebunnymuseum.com/.