DEBARY, Fla. – A prehistoric landmark could be moving out of DeBary to make room for new development.
The Clayton & Sons salvage yard is up for sale along US-17-92 near the SunRail Station. That area is seeing a lot of new residential development, but there is a lot of talk on social media about the large dinosaur that stands along the roadway.
Clayton & Sons have been in business since 1972, but it’s the large T-Rex outside that has become a community staple.
“I got the dinosaur because a lot of people just couldn’t find us ... It was the biggest thing I could find," owner Rodney Beaulieu said.
Weighing about 800 pounds, Dino -- as they call him -- grabbed the attention of Beaulieu’s mom and girlfriend.
“My mom is really into the holidays and came up with the idea of decorating him. My girlfriend can sew and cut things," Beaulieu said.
They go all out, creating outfits for any occasion like the Olympic games, Valentine’s Day and Christmas. From formal wear to patriotic attire, Dino has stolen the hearts of families across the area. Some families have stopped to take photos with the dinosaur and many drivers honk as they pass by the business.
“Dino got some mail a couple weeks ago, I was kind of shocked. It was made out to Mr. T-Rex," Beaulieu said.
He says people have sent Dino chocolates, postcards and letters. His fan mail has increased now that a for sale sign has been posted outside the business.
Beaulieu said Dino is not going anywhere soon. It could take a year to sell the 14-acre property due to the recent moratorium DeBary city council put on residential development near the SunRail station. A recent offer on Beaulieu’s property was denied due to the lack of retail and commercial space.
“It is not a simple process. They have to get approved. They have to go to the city and draw plans, get engineers to show drawings," Beaulieu said. "Then there’s 30 years of salvage out here, so the environmental impact.”
Beaulieu said people have offered to buy Dino, but he’s not for sale. He plans to donate the dinosaur within the community when the time comes.
“We’ll find a good home for him. Maybe a children’s home. Something that can help the kids, maybe a park or something," he said.
Several residents in the area hope that Dino the dinosaur will stay local.
Beaulieu wants customers to know that the salvage yard will remain open during the sale.