By ERIN MAYES
The purple-jerseyed "Bret Harte Bullfrog" stole the show Saturday night in a competitive, fast-paced auction that ended with one bidder paying $50,000.
The nonprofit Bret Harte-Angels, Inc. made the high bid because it received an anonymous donation of $50,000, said President Harry Williams. The money will go toward a new multi-purpose sports and recreational complex at Bret Harte High School, he said, and the frog will be donated to the school.
The Frog Gala Auction, which drew more than 500 people, was an evening filled with all the charm, color and mixed drinks one would expect to find on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Organizers from the Calaveras Chamber of Commerce spent six days setting up the Mardi Gras-themed decorations in Mark Twain Hall at Frogtown in Angels Camp.
They even created the "Rue de Grenouilles" the Street of the Frogs, along which 26 brightly bedecked Painted Frogs of Calaveras County rested on their haunches.
The frogs were auctioned off for a total of $149,100, but to only 20 bidders some bought more than one.
Dean Shoemaker of Morgan Hill spent $18,800 on four frogs, including the "49er Miner" frog that spent some time at Don Boos Design and the "Police Frog" sponsored by Jackson Rancheria.
Shoemaker owns Carmel Chemicals in Morgan Hill and said three of the frogs will be placed around his office and "Police Frog" will be stationed outside the building. He said he first noticed "Police Frog" when he visited Ironstone Vineyard for the Concours d'Elegance last month.
John and Roxie Hertzig of Jackson bought three of the 4-foot fiberglass frogs Saturday night. The couple own John Hertzig Construction and Wendell's Lounge in Mokelumne Hill. They said they haven't decided what to do with all the frogs, although one "Lumberjack Frog" will go to White Pines' Sierra Nevada Logging Museum.
Roxie Hertzig said her father was in the lumber business and her cousin, Pat Bradley, started the museum, so the frog has sentimental value for her family.
The couple spent $14,300 altogether.