BRADFORD - Bruno, the unofficial mascot of Bradford West Gwillimbury, has retired.
But unfortunately for the life-size stuffed animal dog, he will spend retirement in a garbage dump.
“One girl took him. She was using him with her business. Her parents moved. Her dad didn’t know (who Bruno was) and threw him out,” said BWG resident Ann, who started the Bruno From Bradford Facebook page, encouraging people to take the stuffed animal husky on adventures and share photos on social media.
“It’s the size of a real dog. How could you just throw it in the garbage? I was a little mad.”
Ann has remained anonymous throughout the 1 ½-year experiment and declined to give her last name.
She said the last person to post a photo of Bruno on the Facebook page is not the person who last had him.
Bruno’s adventures started when her neighbours put him on their curb after their kids outgrew the nearly one-metre-tall stuffed animal, Ann said.
“We left him on our friend’s front porch. We did it as a joke,” she said.
Then one of her kids had the idea to attach a tag to Bruno introducing him and asking to be taken on adventures. People were asked to post photos on social media using the #BrunoFromBradford hashtag.
When the person was done with Bruno, they could drop him off at another location for someone else to take a turn.
The first place Bruno visited was Summerlyn Dental Care in Bradford.
For more than a year, people from all over town have posted photos of Bruno on adventures — from Pumpkin Fest, to the opening of Henderson Memorial Park, to Music in the Park outside the BWG Public Library.
Bruno has had his hair done at hair salons and barbershops, had a lightsaber battle, visited seniors, gone bowling, hung out with the South Simcoe police, worked out at a gym, had margaritas at Made in Mexico, eaten locally-made baked goods, played with kids in pools and at playgrounds, and accompanied a young patient to SickKids for treatment.
Occasionally, Bruno’s presence would be requested at local events, and Ann said she would post on the Facebook group, “Has anyone seen Bruno?” to track him down.
In those cases, she had to reveal her identity to some people in order to pick him up.
“There’s probably only three people who know he came from my house,” she said.
Ann said she loves how BWG residents embraced Bruno, and he helped showcase what the town has to offer.
“It was getting people to know the different businesses as well,” she said. “He was like the unofficial town mascot. Everyone knew who he was.”
While Ann is upset Bruno is retiring, she said she hopes to replace him one day and start the whole experiment over again.
An exact replacement would cost about $400 from Mastermind Toys, she said, so she hopes to find a less expensive option.
“I’m kind of looking for a Bruno Jr. Like Bruno had a baby, kind of thing,” she said.
Look back through all of Bruno’s adventures on the Bruno From Bradford Facebook page.