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Brownie was a friendly stray dog who became a goodwill ambassador for Daytona Beach in the 1940s to early 50s.
In the early 1940s, Brownie roamed the downtown area before settling at the intersection of Orange Avenue and Beach Street. Ed Budgen, owner of the Daytona Cab Company on Orange Avenue, offered him lunch, eventually christening him "Brownie" due to his brown fur and amiable demeanor.
According to the Halifax Historical Museum, local cab drivers and a nearby restaurant owner offered Brownie scraps. Brownie, a mixed-breed dog, strolled along Beach Street during the day, returning to the cab company's awning at night. He greeted downtown shoppers, played with children and sat with visitors awaiting bus or taxi transportation. Budgen and his cab drivers even constructed a doghouse for Brownie with a coin collection box for donations toward his upkeep.
Brownie's popularity soared, turning him into a local and national celebrity. He accompanied police officers on downtown patrols, posed for pictures with visitors, and received Christmas cards and gifts from across the country. Brownie's community support included an annual license, designating him the town's goodwill ambassador.
In 1944, Brownie survived a hit-and-run accident, recovering with the community's assistance. In 1952, he underwent extensive heartworm treatment, depleting his bank account. A fundraising plea by a Daytona Beach News-Journal editor replenished his funds. Despite over a decade of support, Brownie passed away peacefully in October 1954 due to old age.
Following his death, tourists sent letters, and the remaining funds in Brownie's bank account were used for a casket and headstone. Riverfront Park on Beach Street, today’s Riverfront Esplanade, became his final resting place, where city officials organized a funeral. Mayor John Tamm provided the eulogy to 75 people in attendance. In 2018, a bronze statue of Brownie was erected, commemorating his legacy.
Despite the riverfront park's extensive renovations, Brownie's statue remains near the intersection. A local historian, Eddie James, learned about Brownie while owning a dog boutique along Beach Street. He maintained Brownie's grave site and established an online "Brownie Museum" to preserve historical records.
Although another dog named Brownie continued the tradition from 1955 to 1970, he wasn’t as popular as the original Brownie. Working at the post office on Beach Street, his gravesite is now next to the building. The memory of Brownie, the beloved town dog, endures as a cherished part of Daytona Beach's history.