DEBARY, Fla. – I cover dozens of stories each month, but this one is memorable. It’s one of the first stories I covered when I began working at News 6 and the update is just a perfect Insider story.
A DeBary salvage yard is selling its large property for development, but it was a unique oddity on that property that residents were worried about.
The dinosaur statue that has become a symbol for the city.
It’s been over two years and the property has officially been sold, but the prehistoric landmark is not going extinct.
“Everytime you go past the Claytons’ he was there. Dressed for everything and we really enjoyed that. It was like something only for DeBary,” said 30-year resident Norma Mejia.
Clayton & Sons salvage yard had been in business since 1972. One of the owners shared with me that he decided to bring in a new landmark to help the business stand out. A 20-foot-tall steel T-Rex dinosaur.
“I got the dinosaur because a lot of people just couldn’t find us. It was the biggest thing I could find,” said owner Rodney Beaulieu during a 2020 interview.
For about a decade, Dino the dinosaur turned into an attraction along US 17-92 in DeBary. But it was what Dino wore that grabbed the attention of people passing by.
Clayton & Sons went all out creating themed outfits to celebrate holidays like St. Patrick’s Day, Christmas, even bringing out Dino’s patriotic side with a red, white and blue get-up. DeBary Mayor Karen Chasez said the dinosaur became a city landmark.
“Everyone in the city, from children to adults, always loved that when you enter DeBary there he is to greet you. When it became obvious the property was going to be sold where he lived all these years, everyone was sad,” said Chasez.
The business, now closed, donated Dino to the city of DeBary. The 800-pound steel dinosaur made the trek about two miles up the road on the bed of a truck escorted by police.
“It was a bit surprising. Families came out with their children and lined 17-92 for the mile or so he traveled. That was a bit amazing to me that on a Monday morning so many people showed up,” said Chasez.
“It’s like moving the Statue of Liberty. We’re glad its found a new home. We just had to come out and see it,” said DeBary resident Michael Rivera.
Dino has a new name: Clayton. Named after his former owners and still overlooks US 17-92 outside the community park and splash pad, as a symbol for the city.
So if you’re wondering if Clayton be dressing up for the holidays?
“We anticipate keeping that tradition alive. Our parks and rec department will be in charge of it. I’m hopeful our individual citizens will volunteer to help out,” said Chasez.
“I like it very much and I like how they rescued the dinosaur so everybody can go down there and see him,” said Riley, who shared with Clayton and I that she is going into the first grade.
It appears Clayton got a facelift and new paint. The city plans plans to add a small fence around it. Families are encouraged to visit Clayton and take photos.