FERNDALE, Mich. – Sarah Ignash spends her days looking after dogs in normal times. With her business temporarily shuttered because of the coronavirus, though, she's taken to walks on the wild side through her Detroit suburb with dancing bears, bipedal zebras and the like.
Ignash, whose business in nearby Roseville specializes in boarding, grooming and day care for dogs, is one of the roughly two dozen members of the Ferndale T-Rex Walking Club who have been donning inflatable costumes for feel-good jaunts during these stressful times.
“It’s so much fun. Nobody can really see, (because) I have my mask on. And when I walk, I’m just smiling from ear to ear," the 42-year-old Ignash said before donning her pink unicorn get-up and leading Monday's impromptu parade.
It was the club's seventh walk since it formed in March. The members' full-body inflatable costumes run the gamut from dancing hippos, sharks and bears to a cheerful Pikachu, Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and Mr. Potato Head. And, of course, there's a T-Rex.
They trek single-file along sidewalks to thematically appropriate tunes such as the Bangles' “Walk Like an Egyptian,” and “Walk the Dinosaur” by Was (Not Was).
"The purpose of the group is to just do something a little bit out of the ordinary,” said Ignash, the group's leader and founding member.
Most members of the T-Rex Walking Club also belong to the Elks lodge in Ferndale, and they adhere to a strict set of guidelines.
"We do not tell anybody where we’re going to walk, where we’re meeting or the time that we’re going to walk,” said Ignash, adding that their costumes are fully enclosed and that every member also wears a mask while inside.
Plus, socially distancing is no problem for them.
“A lot of us are very large and we have very long tails,” Ignash said. "So, maintaining social distancing is very easy in these.”
While the club members get a kick out of their parades, the idea is to bring a little bit of cheer to their fellow residents who remain under quarantine as part of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home order.
“That’s just really why we’re doing it. It’s just something that’s very unexpected. And people need something a little bit different to break up the day, I think,” Ignash said.