Fontana frog

The frog statue overlooking state Highway 67 in Fontana has been around since the 1960s, but he or she could be about to get a name for the first time ever. (File photo/Regional News)

FONTANA — The Fontana frog is looking for a name.

The Fontana Public Library is sponsoring the Fabulous Fontana Frog Contest to choose a name for the community’s famous green mascot.

The library is sponsoring the contest to mark the recent frog renovation completed by Nick Pastiu, who owns the frog and the nearby building at 543 Valley View Drive, where he runs his furniture reupholstering business, Nick’s Upholstery.

Pastiu, his wife Lidia, and their employees completed repair work on the frog last summer.

Pastiu said he wants to trademark the as-yet-unnamed frog and make it an official symbol of Fontana.

He is also planning to create some small frog souvenirs and perhaps T-shirts that feature the frog, which would be on sale at Pastiu’s shop and other locations in the village.

At 14 feet tall, dark green, with a worldly-wise stare, the frog has been perched since 1964 on Valley View Drive, also known as state Highway 67.

Library spokeswoman Norma Gowlett said those who wish to propose a name for the frog can dress up their contest entry by drawing a picture of the frog, or writing a story or a poem about Fontana’s frog or just frogs in general.

Contestants can also give a reason for the name they are suggesting, Gowlett said.

“We’re trying to celebrate the frog,” she said.

This year’s frog-naming is taking the place of the library’s poetry contest, which had been held for the past 15 years. The library staff decided more people might be inspired to enter the contest if it were centered on the frog.

Gowlett said she is planning three prizes for adult entries and a prize for each grade level at the school.

Winners will be announced in early April, although the exact date is still uncertain.

The library will print the submitted stories, poems and pictures in a book that will be displayed at the library. There will also be a special reception for those who entered the contest, with the date to be announced in the near future.

To join the fun, contestants need only pick up an entry form at circulation desk of the library, 166 Second Ave., and then submit an entry at the library by 3 p.m. March 22.

Nearby business owner Chuck Palma of Palma Insurance Agency Inc., 547 Valley View Drive, said he did not know about the contest, but he is ready to participate.

“Call it Croaky,” he said. “Fontana is finally getting some attention instead of Lake Geneva.”

Fontana was once called “Frog Hollow” because of the marshy land that provided a home for the amphibians.

The large frog mascot on Highway 67 is featured in a book called “Weird Wisconsin,” written by Linda S. Godfrey and Richard D. Hendricks.

The frog arrived here as part of a miniature golf course, also called Frog Hollow, where it was used as a concession stand.

While the frog’s birth date is set in 1964, no one can exactly recall when the old Frog Hollow miniature golf course closed.

But, by 2012, the frog was anything but fabulous. The paint was faded and the yellow doors on its tummy were falling off. A member of the Fontana Community Development Commission called the frog an eyesore and suggested it be removed.

The community rallied, and in early 2013, Stan Fairchild Jr. did pro bono repairs to the failing frog with the help of local volunteers.

But the frog’s tribulations were not over.

A bad storm later knocked over a light pole that was still standing on the former miniature links, bashing the back end of the frog.

So Nick and Lidia Pastiu invested in frog repairs.

Pastiu said he and some of his employees took time off from repairing classic furniture to repair a classic frog.

The frog is wire frame construction covered by either a cement or plaster. Pastiu said an all-purpose plaster was used to repair the frog.

Frogs were not a particular interest for Pastiu before he met the Fontana frog. Still, he said it was natural for him to be attracted to the slick-skinned amphibians, because he loves nature.

And, he said, he is often working in homes around Fontana, and he has seen many homes decorated with statues and images of frogs.

Finally, frogs mean good fortune in Romania. But there’s a catch.

“Frogs are lucky,” he said. “You’ve got to kiss it, though.”

Chris Schultz has been a reporter for more than 40 years. He has been with the Lake Geneva Regional since 2010. He covers the Lake Geneva City Council and the Lake Geneva area schools.