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Published: Thursday, 12/28/2000

Frogtown, USA

A good idea is worth copying, as we noted in August when we commented on the moose of Toronto and the cows of Chicago - imaginative, full-size, whimsical, artistically created, usually fiber glass animal statuary, displayed on downtown streets.

Mayor Finkbeiner wants similar displays here in Toledo, his critter of choice being the historical swamp frog from which Toledo derived its old nickname, Frogtown. The moniker became so cherished that a mosaic image of a frog was installed just inside the main entrance to the Lucas County Courthouse.

This is a harmless bit of whimsy worth pursuing by both the mayor and the arts community of northwest Ohio. Businesses, institutions, and individuals could put the critters in front of their homes, offices, or stores, decorate them as they wish, and ultimately auction them off for charity.

We can see them now: green and warty, slick and smooth, in frog squats and frog leaps, anthropomorphized into sophisticated boulevardiers, jazz saxophonists, and hayseeds. Polka-dotted, striped, splotched, and even garished up, limited only by the imagination of the artist, to delight the eye and elicit smiles and guffaws.

Here and there sound effects could be part of the presentation, with motion in the vicinity of a frog producing a “ribbit” or two.

Downtown Toledo needs that kind of “oh, wow” fun. The rest of Toledo could use a dose of it, too.

The idea of adorning downtowns with critters originated in Zurich, Switzerland. Chicago, with its Cows on Parade, copied the idea, honoring that city's meat-packing industry and the building renaissance that occurred after the bovine belonging to one Mrs. O'Leary kicked over a lamp and burned down the city. Toronto adopted the theme, only with moose.

Too seldom does a community remember to step back and laugh, including at itself.

Bring on the frogs. “Ribbit, ribbit.”

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