Almost as many frog-hunters as frogs were at Promenade Park yesterday afternoon.
Armed with cameras and frog locator maps, tourists and Toledoans took a last look at some of the sculptures in the “It's Reigning Frogs” exhibit before city crews begin removing the frogs Monday.
Warna and Ron Stoughton traveled from Lancaster, just south of Columbus, to see the fiber-glass frogs. In previous years, they have visited Chicago to see its cow statues, Cincinnati for the pig statues, and Baltimore for fish sculptures.
“The frogs are some of the best we've seen. They're beautiful,” Mrs. Stoughton said.
A total of 110 frogs were sponsored, and all but one are on the streets. The final frog will not go on display because a sponsor just commissioned its creation Wednesday, said Lissa Guyton, executive director of the project.
Six frogs will remain permanently in city parks as drinking fountains. Those frogs were bought by the city's department of public utilities for $4,000 each. It cost an additional $2,800 to equip each statue with a water fountain. They begin hibernating on Nov. 1 when they will be removed to prevent the water lines from freezing.
Of all the frogs, 60 have been donated by sponsors to be sold for a minimum of $1,000 each at a Gala Auction on Oct. 25 at SeaGate Centre.
Half the proceeds from the sale will go to charities designated by the frog's sponsor. The other half will be split between the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo and CitiFest.
“We have had calls and e-mails from all over the country about the auction,” Ms. Guyton said.
One of two celebrity frogs that were signed by President Bush and Mexico's President Vicente Fox will go to the highest bidder. The Walbridge Park advisory board donated its signed frog to the auction and plans to give 25 percent of proceeds from its sale to victims of the attack on the World Trade Center.
The other frog signed by the presidents, owned by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Toledo, is on indefinite loan to the city for display at Government Center.
Ms. Guyton said she hopes some other sponsors that did not give frogs to the auction will keep them on public display.
But Pat Benson of Toledo wasn't taking any chances as she pounded the pavement yesterday, snapping photos of the exhibit for her collection of frog paraphernalia.
“I already bought three little picture albums,” she said.
After the frogs leave the streets, they will be washed and crews will make necessary repairs to get them in shape for auctioning or display.
Throughout the project, damaged frogs have been repaired by their artists at the Secor Armory, 4451 Secor Rd..
Repair costs, which are covered by the project, so far have been less than $5,000, said Dave Eichenberg, visual coordinator for “It's Reigning Frogs.” He said he could not estimate the costs of repairs that may need to be made before the auction.
Mr. Eichenberg said he is pleased with the success of the exposition. “I think it's brought a ton of people downtown,” he said.
The Stoughtons, who had never been in Toledo, are staying for three days to sightsee in the city.
“We're very impressed with the town,” Mrs. Stoughton said.
Frog-hunters who yearn for a frog of their own can purchase tickets for the Gala Auction for $25. A $75 ticket includes a bid packet and a number.
Tickets can be purchased through the SeaGate Box Office at 321-5007 or through Ticket Master at 474-1333.