HAMPSTEAD — Kate Fleming was heartbroken when she learned that her sixth birthday party would have to be canceled because of the coronavirus threat.
Her mom, Marcie, had planned a unicorn theme with games and other fun stuff for her and her friends.
With the virus spreading and social distancing rules in place along with a governor’s order prohibiting gatherings of no more than 10 people, Fleming had no choice but to postpone.
“She just cried. She was legitimately sad. There’s nothing more important to a 6-year-old than a birthday party,” Fleming said.
But Kate got a big surprise when her birthday arrived on Wednesday thanks to Hampstead resident Karen Rudolph, who began dressing up two of her miniature horses like unicorns.
Hoping to cheer up residents as they grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, Rudolph is now taking daily walks with Remi and Knight, who take turns wearing a pink spiraling horn on their foreheads with flowers around their halters and necks.
When she learned about Kate’s canceled party, Rudolph offered to get Remi dressed up to brighten her day.
Rudolph and Remi — a four-time world champion horse when he’s not playing unicorn — were waiting in the cul-de-sac outside their home when Kate and her family showed up to spend a few minutes with Hampstead’s new four-legged star.
With a “Birthday Girl” ribbon pinned on her shirt, Kate was all smiles when she approached to pet Remi and offered a peppermint from her hand.
Remi and Knight are males and don’t seem to mind their new roles as unicorns.
“They’re loving it. I have a full pocket of peppermints. That’s my bribery,” Rudolph said.
Before the visit with Remi, Kate and others with birthdays in town were treated to a parade of vehicles that drove by with signs and honks to celebrate.
“I’m just so impressed with the level of community that’s coming out of this global pandemic. It’s really scary, but there are so many kind people,” Fleming said. “We all want people to be happy.”
Making people happy is exactly what Rudolph set out to do when she began dressing up the horses.
She has a dog-sitting business, Camp Cupcake Pup Resort, but has been out of work because of the coronavirus.
“I had a really colorful unicorn outfit and I thought I could bring them around town,” she said.
In addition to the daily walks, Rudolph is finding other ways for the horses to help the community. She plans to bring Remi to the food pantry at St. Anne Parish in Hampstead to greet people as they stop by to pick up their items.
“I just like to bring smiles to people,” she said.