DUNEDIN — For nearly eight years, Angus was a downtown fixture. He greeted tourists, appeared in family photos and ads, and kept company with bagpipers, who liked to sidle up beside the full-bearded Scotsman as he stood guard outside the Celtic Shop of Dunedin.
So in December, residents and tourists alike were devastated when Angus, a painted wooden cutout, was swiped from the store's stoop after being accidentally left outside overnight.
Dozens of people — from city leaders, to a couple whose Scottish terrier posed annually for pictures with Angus, to a FedEx driver who vowed to keep an eye out — responded to a plea for help that shop owner Lynn Thorn posted on social media.
But alas, Angus was nowhere to be found.
"He was kind of an icon here in Dunedin," said Thorn, who inherited the 6-foot-tall relic when she bought the shop from a previous owner in 2009. "The one time he's left outside, somebody took him."
A couple of months later, though, Angus is back — albeit with a slightly different look and, soon, a new name.
Like the old Angus, a replacement cutout donated by a local nonprofit called the New World Celts features a fedora, suit jacket with tie, sporran bag, knee socks and the official red-green-and-blue Dunedin tartan.
But his shock of red hair has earned him the temporary name "Big Red."
To celebrate, Thorn is hosting a renaming contest. The winner will receive a $15 gift certificate to her shop.
"People are so excited and they're already taking pictures with him," Thorn said.
New World Celts president and founder Mike Dunlap said the donation was a no-brainer for the international group, which often provides security and holds fundraisers as part of their mission to promote Old and New World culture among people with an interest or heritage in the seven Celtic nations.
Two weeks ago, officials with the local chapter lured Thorn, a fellow member, to a meeting at Flanagan's Pub, where they'd hidden Big Red in a back room.
"Everybody didn't believe it. Why would somebody take something like that that was an icon?" Dunlap said. "We said we've got to do something because it's a family."
"It's kind of like an ambassador, even though he's a wooden cutout," added Jay Archer, the 45-year-old Dunedin graphic artist and retired Air Force crew chief who designed Big Red. "He has his own little fan club and that's why he had to be replaced."
The New World Celts donated the plywood, which Archer spent 16 hours decorating over two days.
Recalling members' jokes that they should take turns standing outside her shop in Angus' place, Thorn called Big Red the next best thing.
The donation, she said, "shows what a good community Dunedin is."
Keyonna Summers can be reached at (727) 445-4153, [email protected] or @KeyonnaSummers on Twitter. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.