Birth Name Aronsul Byron von Bruëgala
Nickname  “Claypigeon”
Born 1 October 1931
Belize Town, territory of Belize
Muppetization  12 October 1984
Residence Bruëgala Cay, Bay of Belize
Citizenship joint Belizean-German-American-Bolivian-Tibetan-Indian
Relations Baron Abelard Adalbert von Bruëgala (father)
Lady Marie Earhart von Bruëgala (mother)
Favorite Color Beer
Favorite Song “Belize Navidad”
Favorite Quote “Remember, the joys of alcohol are fleeting, and the toll is terrible. Back in my rummy days, I would tremble and shake for hours upon arising; it was the only exercise I ever got. Following one particular night of drunken debauchery, I awoke to find a full-grown goat in bed beside me. Worse than that, my head felt as though there were a manhole cover resting on it. Imagine my surprise when I reached up and found out that there was a manhole cover resting on my head. Right then and there, I swore that I would never again poison my system with maraschino cherries. Two weeks later I slipped and had another. But, you must believe me when I say I thought it was a seedless grape. I washed it down with some snakebite remedy, which I always keep handy. . . only, however, after first being bitten by a snake. . .which I also keep handy. Those who over-indulge in strong drink always have serpents handy. In fact, some hapless souls are burdened with them as constant companions. In my time, I can remember the company of many assorted reptiles, in addition to pink elephants with lavender dots, a bright blue ostrich with a Mixmaster for a tail, and a chartreuse octopus which taught me to samba. A thief broke into my house and stole my octopus. He cut his tentacles off and used them for non-skid automobile tires. A cruel thing to do — I wish I’d have thought of it.” -W.C. Fields

 

Aronsul Byron “Claypigeon” von Bruëgala (1 October 1931), also widely known as Baron von Bruëgala or “Claypigeon” among his inner circle, is—in his own words—“an international celebrant of great beers of great variety” and is currently best known as the official spokes-muppet for the Bloomington-Normal Jaycees Bruëgala beer festival.

Aronsul Byron von Bruëgala was born in the cargo hold of his father’s refrigerated transport plane on October first while en route to the temporary maternity ward of the Old Belize City Hospital during the initial phases of its reconstruction following the devastating but unnamed hurricane in 1931. His father, Baron Abelard Adalbert von Bruëgala, was a veteran of the Luftstreitkräfte during World War I who emigrated from his native Germany to escape the noble disenfranchisement and general hardship of the post-war Weimar Republic. Lady Marie Earhart von Bruëgala, Baron von Bruëgala’s mother and former Baroness von Bruëgala, is the daughter of a humble German Mennonite missionary to Belize who was the forerunner and surveyor for what would become the contemporary Anabaptist community along the Hondo River in Northern Belize. Lady Marie von Bruëgala, who had always considered her marriage to the Baron as merely an abnormally extended Rumschpringe, realized her father’s dream in founding the Blue Creek German Mennonite community upon Abelard’s death in 1959, where she abides to this day as his widow. Lady Marie von Bruëgala’s longevity is attributed to her dogged hope that her son, the young Baron Aronsul von Bruëgala, would settle down properly in Blue Creek upon retirement from his own extended Rumschpringe. Although the currently reigning Baron von Bruëgala faithfully visits his mother several times each year between festivals and adventures, longer-term exposure to Central American humidity would pose a significant heath risk in his current condition.

Early Life (1931 – 1959)

Aronsul Byron von Bruëgala grew to young adulthood during a critical era in British Honduras. The Bruëgala estate consists of an international refrigerated airfreight business based out of a small cay in the Bay of Belize. Homeschooled in German by his mother and taught the piloting business by his father, Aronsul’s cosmopolitan public persona was indelibly shaped by his Mestizo, Garifuna, Amerindian, and immigrant friends and coworkers during the pre-independence era of what would become modern-day Belize.

Aronsul’s brief stint as a pilot was cut short by a low-altitude crash in the rainforested interior that he remembers fondly as the first instance “beer saved his life.” This striking claim could not be independently verified or corroborated, much like the bulk of his personal testimony upon which this article is based, and should be considered at best anecdotal. After this early incident, Aronsul operated the airfreight dispatch under the handle “Claypigeon” then handled negotiations for refrigerated airfreight contracts. It was during this time, when he secured the long-haul refrigerated airfreight contract with the United States military for post-World War II reconstruction in Europe, that he first met Steve McQueen, then serving with the US Marines.  Aronsul became reacquainted with Steve a few years later when mingling with the cast and crew after a Yiddish theatre performance at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York and the two became close friends and business partners thereafter.

Some of their early collaborations include Aronsul’s underemployment as Steve McQueen’s body-double, though McQueen retained the right to attempt all his own stunts first (which almost always were what made it into each film); an eye-blisteringly repellant sweater design later made famous by Bill Cosby; prototypes for the spork; the Mayan Prophecies; and a television game show pilot for what would become “Hollywood Squares” with Aronsul himself occupying the center square. These and other varyingly successful ventures dropped off abruptly in the summer of 1959 when Aronsul was summoned back home to Belize upon news of his father’s death. 

Pilgrimage Years (1959 – 1979)

When Baron Abelard Adalbert von Bruëgala passed away, widow Marie Earhart von Bruëgala declared an end to her extended Rumschpringe, forfeiting her noble title, and retired to live out the rest of her days among the Blue Creek German Mennonite community so the Bruëgala estate and title passed to Aronsul as the sole heir. Maintaining the family refrigerated airfreight business through proxies and corresponding sporadically with his mother and Steve McQueen by letter, the new Baron von Bruëgala embarked on an eclectic pilgrimage that ranged from a Tibetan monastery-in-exile in India in 1960 to the Bolivian highlands in October of 1967 to Oktoberfest in West Germany in 1971 and finally traveled to “wash it all away” in the healing waters of Minnetonka in the summer of 1979 in time to finally serve as body-double for Steve McQueen, who had begun to suffer poor health, for the filming of “The Hunter.”

Muppetization and Beyond (1980 – Present)

Rather than return to his rambling pilgrimage after Steve McQueen succumbed to cancer in the late fall of 1980, Aronsul sought out Jim Henson to perform life-altering muppetization surgery. To be spared from the ravages of age that had taken his father and disease that had slain his friend, Baron Aronsul von Bruëgala chose to face the world from that day forward as a muppet.

Post-muppetization, Aronsul has endeavored to combine his love for great beers of great variety with the lessons learned during his 20-year pilgrimage—that true riches are found in good friends and good works. After a few underperforming early attempts, the snowed-out beer-slurry bonanza Jantoberfest in Bavaria and the religiously taboo beer oasis in the desert sands between Iraq and Saudi Arabia to name a few, the Baron found a winning partnership in central Illinois.

The Bloomington-Normal Jaycees late-summer beer festival successfully combines good beers for good causes year after year. Baron Aronsul Byron “Claypigeon” von Bruëgala has participated in the annual event for the past several years, primarily appearing in their advertising and somewhat harder to spot in his actual muppet form, and welcomes the somewhat recent addition of fine wines.