MASSENA - Sixty two different frogs had their turn at center ice during the Massena Recreation Department’s annual Boss Frog Jumping Contest Thursday, but only one could earn the most coveted trophy for their coach.
Felicity Engstrom, 10, of Massena was named Boss Frog yesterday after posting an age-group best time of 7.27 seconds in the first round and coaxing her frog across the finish line in 5.35 seconds in the finals.
Felicity, with the help of her grandfather, Animal Control Officer Robert Sommerfield, picked out the medium-sized leopard frog the night before the competition.
“This is the first time I’ve done the contest. I wasn’t expecting to win,” Felicity said. “I just tapped the ground, and he went.”
“We got (the frog) last night on the side of the road. We just went down the road and she said, ‘Where are we going to go?’ (I said) ‘Right here. They’ll be in the grass,’” Mr. Sommerfield added.
He said that when he and Felicity were surveying their potential frogs to use they had a good feeling about their eventual winner.
“We got a lot of little tiny ones, and I got one big one that’s sitting there. Sometimes you get one that’s a jumper and the next one won’t be,” Mr. Sommerfield said. “I said, ‘We’ll bring him anyway just for the heck of it.’ The leopard frog was sitting their on the grass and I go ‘This is the one.’”
While some of Thursday’s competitors were multiple year entrants, this was the champion’s first time in the event.
The overall second place finisher was Lena Lashomb, whose frog hopped across the finish line in the finals in 6.42 seconds. Rounding out the podium was Bella Drake, whose amphibian jumped to the finish in 7.39 seconds.
Maddie Laraby earned first place in the 5 and under age group, posting a time of 6.18 seconds. In the 6 to 9 age range, Sal Perretta’s frog finished in the quickest time at 5.55 seconds.
“I’ve been doing this (contest) for 26 years. Originally it was in Lawrence, Brasher and Massena, and they used to flip-flop back and forth. They would do one year there and one year here,” Summer Recreation Director Patrick Henrie said. “People bring the frog into our 10 foot diameter circle. There’s a starting spot. They set it down and when we say go, they let go of the frog and they can’t touch it anymore. Then they have to coax their frog out over the big circle and the fastest times of course win.”
Mr. Henrie said that adults may assist the children in carrying and placing the frog in the circle, but then they are required to step aside.
“(The kids) tap their hands, blow on it, but there’s no stomping of the feet so we don’t get any casualties,” he said. “The one thing we do tell everybody is to make sure that they take the frog back and put it back into the environment when they’re done.”
Each contestant is given a 45-second time limit to get their frog to hop across the finish line.
After each age group is finished with their run throughs, the top 10 finishers are selected to compete for the Boss Frog trophy and their first round scores are wiped out.
Contestants caught their frogs in various locations prior to Thursday’s hopping tournament and had different experience levels.
“Every kid is different. They do something different, and they have a ball. They can’t wait for it every year. I have some kids who are scared to death and some that love it,” Heidi Burke said. “Everybody usually brings one (frog) and sometimes they go right down to the river at Springs Park.”
“I’ve got a little pond in my back yard, like a little swampy area. Sometimes we’ll just go driving around looking too,” Jeremy Lashomb said.