FERNDALE, Mich. – Just when you thought Halloween was over, the streets of Ferndale might have a group of people dressed in inflatable animal costumes coming to neighborhoods soon.
But don’t worry about going to the store and buying candy to give them.
It’s just simply in the name of bringing some smiles and laughter during the coronavirus pandemic.
It all started for Sarah Ignash, owner of All American Pet Resorts Lakeshore in nearby Roseville, when she had to do something devastating, and as a result, then wanted to try and do something uplifting.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and shut down many businesses, Ignash had to lay off employees and suspend services for her business in order to survive.
“I just wanted to do something to cheer people up,” she said. “I had just laid off 13 people from our business. I just needed to do something that was lighthearted and fun.”
So after hearing about how people in another state were dressing up as inflatable animals and walking around to help cheer up kids, a light bulb went on in Ignash’s head.
Ignash, who in 2017 decided to buy an inflatable T-Rex costume because it was simply something she thought was neat after seeing it on TV, reached out to some other friends who had inflatable animal costumes.
From there, an idea was born.
Dubbed the Ferndale T-Rex Walking Club, the group has organized three walks in the past couple of weeks where they simply trot around neighborhoods in the inflatable animal costumes.
Their goal is to try to bring some cheer to kids and families quarantined in their homes.
The group is also part of the nearby Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks in Ferndale.
“The kids are freaking out and the reaction is so much fun,” Ignash said. “People are honking horns and we get a kick out of it. Other people are getting a kick out of it. It’s not normally something you see.”
On its most recent walk Friday, there were 14 “animals” as part of the group.
The group can’t announce when and where they are walking in order to comply with social distancing guidelines set during the state’s stay-at-home order.
Ignash leads the group walking in a pink unicorn outfit she got for Christmas.
Ignash’s husband, David Ignash, walks around as a gray shark, while people dressed as a bear, dinosaurs, and a penguin, to cite a few examples of the types of animal costumes, also walk around.
Sarah Ignash said they are completely enclosed in the costumes, so it’s a safe procedure.
The only thing stops them from walking is if there is bad weather, particularly high winds.
“You are completely enclosed,” Ignash said. “This is the perfect way to make people smile, do something unexpected and still be safe.”
Ignash said one of her friends got an alligator costume in the mail and will be part of the next walk, whenever and where that will be.
Regardless, people in Ferndale should be prepared for some dinosaurs and other animals to be walking their way shortly.
“It’s taken off and been so much fun,” Ignash said. “It’s been incredible.”