Joker Marchant Stadium Hosts Inagural Unicorn Festival
by James Coulter
The unicorn is the rarest of God’s creatures, yet visitors to Joker Marchant Stadium last Friday evening had the opportunity to see for themselves the fabled one-horned horse—or at least the facsimile of one.
The inaugural Unicorn Festival that evening allowed guests of all ages, especially young girls, to engage in unicorn-related activities, including a petting zoo with several animals. One of these animals was a horse decorated with a horn on its head, imitating a unicorn so fluffy that you’d want to die!
The petting zoo that evening was provided by Pretty Ponies, which provides such animals for birthday parties, church functions, school outings, and other events across Central Florida from Ocala to Fort Myers. The small business also offered other activities including face painting, snow cones, and cotton candy.
Storm Elliot, co-owner of Pretty Ponies, was inspired to start the business back in 2001. Her mother would drive a school bus, and one of the children was planning a cowboy party. Since Elliot and her mother had animals, they decided to bring several along. They have been facilitating such events ever since, she said.
“These events are perfect for us,” she said. “We get a lot of interaction with the community, making the kids happy is our number one thing, we always want to make the kids happy, it is always about the kids.”
The Unicorn Festival was hosted for the first time ever at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland on Friday evening. Attendees could pet a unicorn and several other animals at the petting zoo, have their faces painted like unicorns, and try their luck tossing rings onto a unicorn’s horn.
“Unicorns are the new thing [for little girls], and it is very trendy right now, so why not make it a night for our promotional event,” said Chimere Butler, Group Sales Manager.
Butler helps coordinate many of the theme nights at the stadium, which allows attendees to enjoy several activities along with the scheduled baseball game featuring the home team, the Lakeland Flying Tigers.
Partnering with the event were the Girl Scouts, who not only help assist with the event that evening, but also provide more exposure for their troop and organization.
Toni Collelo, Membership Manager for Polk County, and her organization have been partners and close friends with the stadium. They were more than pleased to help that evening, interacting with the young girls and their families, many of whom expressed interest in joining the scouts.
“We want…to see Girl Scouts in action,” she said. “We are friends with the stadium, we have a good partnership with them. It was a great event, and we look forward to it next year…Girls love unicorns. It was very nice, we had a great turnout, we had some newcomers to girl scouts, and our girls had a good experience.”
Occurring concurrently with that evening’s event was First Responder’s Night, with several members of local emergency and rescue services, including the Polk Sheriff’s Office and Lakeland Fire Department, to showcase their vehicles, host demonstration, and offer information about their services.
Evry Manley, Communication and Education Assistant, loves being able to attend to educate young people about what she does for a living. She especially loves being able to spark interest among young girls, as it helps inspire more women like herself.
“I love any event that I can interact with the kids and show them all that we can do,” she said. “It is cool for them to see that…especially with the girl scout troops here. We want to give out the message that women can be firefighters too. And that is something we did with the campaign last year.”