Drivers in the Central California town of Madera got quite a surprise Wednesday night as a unicorn darted through traffic.
Well, not really a unicorn, but a white pony dressed up like one for a child's birthday party. The pony bolted away from one of the party-goers around 5:30 p.m. and was reported by several drivers on different highways, according to California Highway Patrol.
"The calls were coming in as a unicorn running around," said CHP Officer Josh McConnell.
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It was the second time the headstrong pony had escaped that day, according to CHP. Worrying that the nearly 500-pound pony would cause a collision that could result in injuries, CHP used a helicopter to track down the wayward animal.
"She was kind of running amok in some orchards with some white blooms," said Sandra Boos, whose family owns the horse named Juliette. "So, she kind of blended in with the scenery.
"She turned out to be stealthier than we would have imagined."
Juliette, who belongs to 5-year-old Tatum Boos, was finally found in an orchard, wrangled back into custody and returned to her Madera County stable in a fairy-tale ending.
"I was afraid," Tatum said. "She got in a timeout because she was being a bad pony."
The somewhat mythical pursuit came to an end when Renee Pardy and her horse, an equine friend of Juliette's, came to the rescue.
"They'd met before, and I just kind of walked off with my horse and she followed," Pardy told KSEE-TV.
Boos said authorities provided some comedy relief during the tense situation by putting out a report that the unicorn was in custody.
"I laughed and I cried," Boos said.
NBC4's Jonathan Lloyd contributed to this report.