By MIKE MORRIS
For the first time, all 26 of the "Painted Frogs of Calaveras" ranging from "Disco Frog" to "Lumberjack Frog" will be displayed together before being auctioned off to the public.
The Calaveras County Chamber of Commerce has sold nearly 500 tickets at $50 each for the Mardi Gras-themed auction Saturday, Oct. 25.
"It's kind of a way to celebrate the county's most famous citizen the frog," Chamber of Commerce Director Diane Gray said.
The Painted Frogs of Calaveras is a community project developed by the chamber and the Calaveras Arts Council to highlight talented artists in the county, raise funds for charities and provide local businesses the chance to sponsor and adorn their establishments with the 4-foot, fiberglass frogs.
There are 22 frogs displayed throughout the county at various businesses and offices. Local artists are painting the remaining four.
"They became popular little icons in the community," Gray said.
The auction will be held at Mark Twain Hall on the Calaveras County Fairgrounds. People can view the frogs from 6-7:30 p.m. Dinner will follow the viewing, and the auction begins at 8:45 p.m.
Gray said there will be a minimum bid of $1,000 for each frog. She said some of them could fetch "into the tens of thousands of dollars."
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. Each sponsor chooses a charity that will receive all money earned from the auction of his or her frog.
Organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Mark Twain-St. Joseph's Hospital Foundation, the Sierra Nevada Logging Museum and Bret Harte-Angels Inc. will benefit from the auction.
"So there are a lot of charities that are going to get a lot of money that night," Gray said.