By Nastacia Voisin • Of the News-Register • 

Derby Day celebrants hop on

“Her name’s Dot,” the 5-year-old said. That’s because her speckled prize “looked and hopped like a dot.”

“I got her myself,” Chayney said, trying to gently pet the little creature cradled in her hands. The frog’s throat bobbed rapidly, eyes bulging — perhaps from the exertion of being cheerfully chased by a herd of children.

To participate in the frog jump, participants had to catch a frog and keep it healthy enough to compete. The creatures were stored in Tupperware containers, picnic coolers and buckets brimming with pond water. A few frogs were rapidly swapped in the pre-contest phase, but most children held fast to their temporary pets.

Captured from local water holes, some frogs where christened with relatable names like Speedy or Hopper, while others had more exotic handles such as Tuna and Dirt Bike. There were 56 entries in all.

Event co-chair Bob Landauer used a fire hose to dampen the hot ground, allowing children to cool off by dancing in front of the stream of water. An overflowing crowd clustered on straw bales and picnic benches was warned away from “the water zone,”but many stayed to enjoy the side spray.

After placing their frog inside of a pink chalk circle drawn on the watered-down asphalt, contestants had one minute to encourage three hops from the creatures.

No rule regulated how large or small a frog could be, but the larger entries had a clear advantage.

Children used every tactic imaginable to startle the animals into movement. Some frogs eagerly sprang away, while some refused to budge — sleepy, defiant or unperturbed by handler coaxing.

The five frogs with the longest combination of hops earned places, and their owners collected special prizes. Kaden Blankenship’s plump frog Garfield took first, managing 326 inches in six hops.

An exuberant Blankenship happily claimed the only squirt gun. Non-placers walked away with a candy-filled swag bag.

For dedicated Derby Day participants, the day had begun far earlier, with a morning parade and the famous Soap Box Derby races. Racing began at noon, with a round robin tournament followed by a double-elimination bracket.

This year, siblings Katie and Kyle Slater outpaced the competition. Katie prevailed in the homemade category and Kyle in the kit-built category.

The day-long celebrations wrapped up with a series of trike races for all ages, a firefighter bucket brigade competition and evening karaoke.

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