By SUNNY LOCKWOOD
A 4-foot-tall, 60-pound frog wearing loud golfing garb now greets those coming to Camps Restaurant in Greenhorn Creek.
Painted by Mountain Ranch artist Cate Culver and unveiled Friday, the frog, with its checkered hind legs and dreamy eyes, is the latest in what Calaveras Chamber of Commerce leaders hope will be a colorful parade of artful amphibians highlighting area businesses and raising funds for local charities.
Other painted frogs are on display at Save Mart and the chamber office in downtown Angels Camp. More are in progress.
Launched in January, the Painted Frogs of Calaveras are sponsored by businesses or organizations. Sponsors pay $2,000 to have a frog painted and displayed at their sites $1,500 goes to the chamber and $500 goes to the artist.
By October, about 30 frogs are expected to be on display around Calaveras County.
The chamber will hold a gala and auction, and the frogs will go to the highest bidders with proceeds to go to local charities of the frog sponsors' choices.
The various frogs express cultural, historical and whimsical themes.
Shortly after 10 a.m. Friday, Calaveras Chamber of Commerce President Clay Walker unveiled the Camps frog, lifting its covering sheet to reveal the fiberglass amphibian illustrating a golfing theme, complete with golf cart, sand trap, greens and, of course, checkered "trousers."
Bill Murphy, managing partner of Greenhorn Creek, sponsored this frog. He called the Painted Frogs of Calaveras a "great program that will build awareness of the arts and businesses in the county."
Murphy chose two charities to benefit from the auction of this frog: Mark Twain St. Joseph's Hospital Foundation and Calaveras Arts Council.
Both Danny Mao, president of the foundation, and Penny West, executive director of the arts council, said they were grateful to be chosen.
Diane Gray, chamber executive director, said 16 more frogs are in various stages of development.