A Mouse's Memories: Rose Parade With Walt

Times Staff Writer

Paul Castle's quarter century as Mickey Mouse was warmly rewarding--most of the time. Here are some of the milestones and millstones, in his own words:

"My most favorite time of all was with Walt Disney in the Rose Parade in 1966, the year he passed away. He was the grand marshal of the Rose Parade and I was in the car with him in the back seat, just Walt and I for three hours. Just Walt and I. Of all the things I've done in my lifetime, that to me was my biggest day. Walt and me, January 1, 1966.

"Walt and I opened the Anaheim Stadium, you know. Walt threw out the first ball and he gave it to me to throw, so I threw it. Goofy was the catcher. April 23, 1965."

"It's hard to believe that Walt's been gone so long. He didn't know he was as sick as he was, you know. That was the thing. He just smoked a little too much. I think that was his real problem."

"I was Baby New Year for two years and I went off the top of the (Matterhorn) mountain on a wire just like Tinker Bell does. There are very few people who ride that wire besides Tinker Bell."

As Castle recalls it, the year was 1965 or 1966 and he was atop Disneyland's famous mountain wearing a skin-colored leotard, holding a top hat and screaming: "Let me go, let me go!"

"They let a big bunch of balloons go. . . . They were drifting right to the wire, and they thought if they got caught on the wire . . . that I'd get caught when I went down on the pulley.

"They wouldn't let me go because they had to . . . make sure the balloons drifted past the cable so it didn't get caught.

"It turned out OK. But the guy was hanging me over the side 150 feet (off the ground) with just these two wires holding my back.

"Heh, heh, heh. I'll never forget that. That was really something. . . . That was really . . . the most scary thing that I ever did at Disneyland."

In 1985, during the 30th anniversary of Disneyland's opening, Castle said he "kind of got a little upset because they didn't use me in that parade."

"I'd been there 24 years and they let some girl do Mickey Mouse in the parade. That's the one thing I sort of feel bad about. I said, 'Oh boy, I'm breaking my back out here and you don't care enough to even let me do this parade' . . . It was on national television too."

"Santa Claus and Mickey Mouse are the two most famous characters in the world and I did them both. In fact I did Santa Claus twice because I did it with the 'Sonja Henie Show' too."

"On the (Disneyland) 50th Anniversary Mickey got to the White House, but it wasn't me. The same year I put the star in the Walk of Fame in Hollywood they had a girl (portraying Mickey Mouse) going cross country at the time, and she met the President. That's one of the little things that used to upset me, you know, heh, heh, heh."

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