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To spread joy, a Seminole Heights woman runs through her neighborhood dressed as a unicorn

“There is nothing better than being a unicorn,” Corey Jurgensen said with a laugh. “Everyone smiles when they see a unicorn.”

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.

Corey Jurgensen says she began to run around in the inflatable unicorn costume to cheer others up but discovered it cheered her up as well, to run through her Seminole Heights neighborhood wearing a silly costume. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]

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."

Colton Smith, 2, watches from his front porch as Corey Jurgensen, wearing an inflatable unicorn costume, waves across the street. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]

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.

Cars beeped.

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.

Corey Jurgensen greets Wesley Benjamin with a fist bump while she was out running while wearing an inflatable unicorn costume. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]

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.

“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.

Corey Jurgensen has been wearing an inflatable unicorn costume during runs several times a week to cheer up others during this time of isolation. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]

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.”

Corey Jurgensen jogs along Central Avenue in front of houses, wearing an inflatable unicorn costume. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]

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