Hopping to the rescue of the Fontana frog
FONTANA It’s been a visible fixture for nearly 50 years. After all, it’s 14 feet tall and green, so standing out hasn’t been a problem.
However, Fontana’s famous frog on Wisconsin Highway 67 had been forgotten, or at least taken for granted, by many for far too long.
(Read all of this week's stories from Walworth County Sunday HERE. )
Several years of neglect, vandalism and the continuing effects of Mother Nature had taken their toll. And those factors had combined to have some label the concrete amphibian an eyesore and call for its demolition and removal from the local landscape.
That set of circumstances prompted businessman John Karabas to take to social media circles in late August to see what could be done about saving the landmark. Hundreds of Walworth County residents and visitors responded to his Facebook post with a groundswell of Save the Frog support -- one of them even starting a page for the famous attraction.
So, at least for the foreseeable future, the frog’s fate has been guaranteed, the lone remnant of the Frog Hollow miniature golf course and fireworks shop that so many of those Internet followers mentioned in reminiscing about days gone by.
Karabas moved to the village and opened the nearby Pie High Pizza about 18 months ago after owning several pizza establishments in Chicago for 20 years. Little did he know that his post would cause such of an uproar, although he’s glad that it did.
“I’ve only got about 450 fans, but I got probably more than 400 responses, mostly from people saying they believe the frog should be saved,” Karabas said. “Many of them told stories about childhood memories and what the frog meant to them. We had quite a few from the Chicago area who come up during the summer and how this was a big deal. Many of them said they would help fix the frog.
“Stan Fairchild really stepped up, and his company did all of the work on it … he had called the property owner (Bob Hutchinson), who said to go ahead and fix it up,” Karabas said. “Stan put a lot of his own time and money into the project. We also held a fundraiser one night with money going to the frog. We’ve had people stopping in and thanking us. The whole thing really blew up.”
Read the complete story in the Nov. 18 print or e-edition of Walworth County Sunday.