TAMPA — Men and women throughout the United States are using their time in self-isolation to better themselves.
Writing that novel, starting a workout routine or learning to cook.
Corey Jurgensen says nothing tops her self-improvement.
She turned into a unicorn.
“There is nothing better than being a unicorn,” Jurgensen, 40, said with a laugh. “Everyone smiles when they see a unicorn.”
Jurgensen is obviously not a real unicorn, but she is bringing magic to her Seminole Heights neighborhood.
For nearly a month, Jurgensen has worn a 7-foot tall inflatable unicorn costume — white with rainbow hooves, tail and mane — and gone out into the streets to spread joy.
She walks. She runs. She prances. She dances. She pretends to graze on bushes and trees.
“People literally slow down as they drive by to take videos and pictures," Jurgensen said. “I do it more for the adults than the kids. The adults are so stressed, worried about potentially losing their jobs and their kids being home. They need a laugh.”
Still, the weather must be right, she said. “The costume is hot, so it has to be below 75."
The conditions were perfect on Thursday — cool and breezy with a light drizzle — so she was running around the neighborhoods surrounding the Seminole Garden Center on N. Central Avenue.
It was glorious.
Residents cheered and snapped photos.
Wesley Benjamin took a break from his postal route to fist-bump her.
Two-year-old Colton Smith cooed with delight as he watched from his front step.
“This is making his day," father Jonas Smith said.
Jurgensen, a massage therapist at Massage Envy in Wesley Chapel, purchased the costume last Halloween.
“I was the Squatty Potty mascot,” she said, citing the television commercial unicorn that poops rainbow-colored soft serve ice cream.
A friend residing in Washington saw a video of someone dressed as a unicorn at a grocery store. She knew Jurgensen had a similar costume and dared her to dress up, too.
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“Challenge accepted,” Jurgensen said.
She ran a few blocks in the costume on March 21, asked neighbors to snap photos as evidence that she did it, and thought she’d hang up the unicorn horn forever.
Via Facebook, Jurgensen learned her short jog had a large impact.
“I was trending on the Seminole Heights Community page,” she said. “I got a flood of screenshots of comments of people saying it was awesome and they needed this and their children would love to see it if I do it again."
Alicia Rosendo wrote: “To the person dressed as a unicorn walking down Florida Ave., you made my family’s day during a really stressful time. We all got so excited when we saw you. It was a much-needed laugh.”
Added Jessica White, “High five unicorn dude or dudette.”
And Chad Walsh wondered, “Did anybody see a unicorn today or am I just hallucinating?”
Jurgensen, who is not working because there is no way to give massages while social distancing, realized the escapade is a fun distraction for her, too.
“I just laugh whenever I put the costume on,” she said.
And like that, the massage therapist became a unicorn.
She gets neighborhood requests and tries to comply, but, sadly, Jurgensen said, some are too far away.
“I can do about a square mile from my house,” she said. “I can’t go out longer than 30 minutes or I will pass out on a corner. I want to help people smile, not traumatize every child.”
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