PASADENA, Calif. — It started 18 years ago with an endearment and a plush bunny.
Today, Steve Lubanski and Candace Frazee live in The Bunny Museum, where they have the world's largest rabbit collection with more than 26,000 items. Guinness World Records dubbed them the largest in 1999 when there were only 8,437 pieces in the house.
Frazee counts and catalogs the collection and keeps track of visitors — hovering around 16,000.
The couple are surrounded by rabbits, from wallpaper to wind chimes, phones to faucets and sheets to screen savers. Thousands of items are in storage because there is no space left.
Erin Seeherman, 24, was visitor No. 15,976. She came from Philadelphia with pictures of her bunnies, Zeke and Nora, food for Frazee's rabbits and plans to buy lots of souvenirs at the museum gift shop.
"I was hoping it would be trinket heaven," she said.
Lubanski, 52, and Frazee, 53, met at a singles seminar in 1992. She called him "Honey Bunny" and he gave her a stuffed rabbit for Valentine's Day.
In the beginning, they gave each other bunny gifts on holidays. Then every day. Sometimes dozens a day. At the reception to their 1994 wedding, he dressed in a bunny costume; they did the bunny hop and ate carrot cake.
In 1998, they opened the museum, calling it the "hoppiest place in the world." Admission is free, by appointment only.
The couple have seven real bunnies and continue to expand their collection at antique, novelty and out-of-town stores. Even when they go on vacation, there are bunny influences — like the Rabbit Ridge Winery in Paso Robles or the Jackrabbit Trading Post in Joseph City, Ariz.
This time of year is like Christmas, because Easter makes stores nearly as bunny happy as they are.
The most asked-after item in the museum is an Elvis Parsley pitcher, Frazee said. But the most asked question? "How do you dust?"
She used to do it all herself, but finally hired a housekeeper to help two days a week.
"But the truth is," she jokes, "we don't mind dust bunnies at the museum."
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