City looks gift unicorn (the Trojan kind) in mouth

Art installation successfully cheered Hudson's Bay woman, but can't keep occupying space in street

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

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Vancouver resident Robyn McCracken loves collecting unicorn figurines -- and boy, did her friend come up with a doozy.

Seeing a 20-foot-tall Trojan unicorn, parked perfectly parallel to the sidewalk outside her home in the Hudson's Bay neighborhood, brought a smile to McCracken's face when she discovered it Aug. 29.

It also resulted in a call to code enforcement.

"Godzillacorn," as McCracken calls it, will be moved this weekend to behind her home.

McCracken, 54, who broke her neck 25 years ago in a diving accident and walks with the assistance of a cane, said she had been feeling down lately, and her friend, Frank James Mabry III, knows about her love for unicorns. She said the day he came over and told her to look outside, she said, "Frank, I'm not in the mood for this."

But she was delighted to find Godzillacorn, a joy shared by her grandchildren and many of her neighbors who have taken pictures and asked questions.

"It cheered me up immediately," McCracken said.

"All of the neighbors I do know just loved it," she added, noting she has met new neighbors because of the curious creature.

At least one neighbor didn't like it, however, and filed a complaint with the city.

McCracken said she received a visit from code enforcement officer Randy Scrivner, who kindly told her that Godzillacorn had to be moved.

When asked why the city was anti-unicorn, Chad Eiken, director of community and economic development, said the unicorn itself isn't the problem.

"We like rainbows. We like unicorns," Eiken said. "We're nice people."

But objects can't be stored in the public right-of-way without a transportation permit, he explained, adding that the only things that are supposed to be parked on streets are operable vehicles.

Eiken laughed when he saw a photo of Godzillacorn.

"I can see why it would cheer someone up," Eiken said.

Mabry, chairman of the Hudson's Bay Neighborhood Association, said the Trojan horse was built a few years ago for a performance at the Portland Art Museum. Mabry builds and remodels homes, but he also works with groups and events, which is how he found himself helping build the Trojan horse. It was constructed over two weeks with steel rods welded together and covered with canvas, then painted. He said it can be disassembled, which is how he has been storing it in his garage.

"It comes apart in five pieces — well, now, six pieces with the horn," Mabry said Friday.

To transport it, he loads it in the back of a truck and drives "very, very slowly."

Mabry, 40, and McCracken used to be neighbors and have been friends for years.

Knowing she was having a difficult time, Mabry decided to reassemble the 14-foot-long Trojan horse and add a pointed horn so it would resemble his friend's favorite legendary animal.

"She loves unicorns, and I love her," Mabry said.

He didn't anticipate it would run afoul of city code, and jokingly wondered aloud if he should have added a license plate.

While Godzillacorn will be moved temporarily to behind McCracken's home, the nonprofit group that owns it wouldn't mind selling it, he said, so who knows where it could end up next.


Stephanie Rice: 360-735-4508 or stephanie.rice@columbian.com.