ASHEVILLE, NC (WLOS) — Social distancing is vital as a matter of public health. But let’s be real, cabin fever can sometimes make us go ape.
“Well, this is Pinky the Gorilla,” says Jillian Isele, sporting the suit that’s become her singing telegram staple. “I’m also known as Sarah Nade.”
Considering our COVID-19 state of mind, going undercover sure sounds bananas, but welcome to the jungle.
“Do you want balloons in the picture or just normal?” she asked.
Like us, she is adjusting to the new normal.
“Well, I think that people are needing connection right now,” she said, answering questions from at least six feet away. “And it’s really hard. We’re all stuck in our homes.”
Isele launched Songs Sealed Delivered back in 2007.
Her mission Wednesday began with a nocuous knock. Then, Jillian stepped back as a precaution.
“I just wanna be extra safe,” she said.
Then, a mother opened the door with her little girl.
“In the jungle, the mighty jungle, there’s a birthday girl in sight!” Jillian sings with an animated delivery.
“I really liked the pink gorilla!” said birthday girl Zalea Eacho, who turned 6 on Wednesday. There will be no party this year, but the telegram sure was memorable.
“Don’t worry, this pink gorilla don’t bite!” Jillian assured her, continuing her medley.
Zalea’s grandma ordered the singing telegram. It’s also just what the doctor ordered.
“We’ve been cooped up every day doing home school, so it was nice to have that bit of joy,” Zalea’s mom Alice said.
“I thought it was really weird and funny!” Zalea added.
“There’s nothing like a pink gorilla to sing happy birthday to you!” Jillian sang.
At first, the coronavirus outbreak brought her bookings to a halt.
“I was thinking, initially, I would have to shut down,” she said. “But then I was like, ‘Well, what’s keeping me from singing in yards 10 feet away.'”
Jillian says she started getting calls again in the last few days. Maybe the 800-pound gorilla is that a lot of us could use a pick me up.
“Cause you’re another year old today, yes, give her a round of applause!” she told Zalea, eventually leaving a gift outside the house. “And I’ve got some balloons for you. I’ve got a card, and I’ll leave it here just to be safe.”
For those on the receiving end, a serenade is serendipitous.
“It’s really valuable, since we have no interaction with our friends or our community right now,” Alice said. “It’s really important to have that moment of joy and celebration.”
“So, this is a way to kind of connect, spread a little love, and feel like we’re still together,” Jillian said.
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