Having just turned eighty, I am proud, and somewhat astonished. It’s never been a challenge for me to celebrate even the smallest victories, both mine and others’. This year tossed in glitches, and we wondered: how does A Frog House’s birthday party work in a worldwide pandemic?
Bright idea: It took awhile to think it through. Then: a Froggy Scavenger Hunt involving stores and restaurants in Schoen Place and Northfield Commons! Canal-side frogs refused personal appearances because we couldn’t provide teeny masks and baby bottles of sanitizers, but sent lovely portraits of themselves, which we placed at each generous location. With all the protocols and gear classy crones could muster, my darling right hand Katherine Denison and I set out to stir up some support from our neighbors across the street. We promised fun, education, and community collaboration, and we did it!
Sponsors: The businesses listed below loaned their windows and doors for our promotions and offered gift certificates or a prize. From off site, Susan Plunkett’s Fabulous Foods delivered prepaid lunches; Friends of Pittsford Village donated prizes; and Galleas Florist and Greenhouse donated more than enough floating lighted frogs for everyone. Patty Love of Barefoot Permaculture helped me and volunteers Mary Krehling, Marcia Krebs, MD and her daughter Maddie, and Donna Richardson to make little magazine cups for all the hundreds of our blooming Rose of Sharon bushes. Jessie Able, her daughter Langley, and Donna also helped with pricing. Some of them were taken from our event, but most of them disappeared when we put them down near the towpath. Regain Therapy delivered folding chairs for guests. and Impact Earth provided tables, wooden chairs, a most welcome shade tent, compostable food ware, and sorting bins (for which no one followed directions). Sam Patch Boat Tours donated two free passes for October 11 at 6 pm. and A Frog House is working to fill up the tour for the star performance. Many thanks again to all our generous donors, whose donations to our special campaign and our regular site, plus cash sales, tickets, and donations amounted to $2790!
Safety first. A wash station, sanitizers, masks, distance markers, temperature check, and activities in shifts. We ditched the kid games, created adult-supervised family activities, and took participants off site.
Wonderful treats: Hoppy ice cream of course, thanks to Charles Corby, Pittsford Farms Dairy and Bakery owner. The delicious bite-sized cupcakes were from our neighbor in Northfield Commons, Dolce Cupcakery, at a sweet price.
A captain at work: Back at A Frog House, we worked through inevitable pandemic pandemonium as we sorted our new tactics. Our volunteer crew hopped over obstacles and kept us croaking, all with much laughter and many spontaneous solutions. And then it started to go smooth as a river, everybody declaring wins and eating goodies, and chatting at safe distances. We were lucky to have a smart, cooperative crowd. Maria Venette kept us all properly informed and made sure every guest was entertained.
Volunteers: We recruited a few on the spot, or they pitched in. Frogophiles helped at each station and sometimes more than one, filling in where there were gaps.
Here were preliminary assignments: Pre-setup: Matthew Fass, Sarah Bissonette Adler, Patrick Anliker
Welcome Table: Danette Johnson, Lisa Culligan Ryan, Pearl Monique
Village and Town representatives, Bill Smith, Rob Corby, scavenger hunt sendoff, Mary Krehling
Scavenger Hunt Question Cards: Bonnie Abrams, Donna Richardson
Refreshments: Chelsea Ingalls and Patrick (Karen Yehl-Jenkins, Suzanne, Pearl, and Lindsay Graham jumped in)
Prize table: Sarah listening and Matthew playing the accordion (so relaxing), Sam Patch: Leslie Seltzer, and Gary
A Frog House: Margot, Katherine Denison, Dorothy Ross
Cleanup: Matthew, Sarah, Mark Augustin, Denni Ebert, Richard Moon, and the rest of us.
Photography: Stephen Ransom. The fabulous images on this page are all Steve’s. Lindsay Graham also took a lot of wonderful photos which you will see on Facebook, as well as helping so much overall before, during and after the event. So lucky to have her ongoing and invaluable support.
The Outcome: Champion frog hunters marched out, armed with match sheets and maps. As we promised, there were prizes, won as follows:
Kathleen deFazio and her friend Crystal won big certificate bucks to spend at Jojo’s Bistro & Wine Bar for best score (100%!) on Scavenger Hunt Matching Card.
Kyle Balonek and Steve Brauksieck got the best score (100%) on the scavenger hunt educational questions. They chose the gift certificate for Simply Crepes. Steve’s wife, Kristen Thornton, MD, won water globes from Mostly Clay and a fairy garden from Friends of Pittsford Village for her Cub Scout kids, with gratitude for her huge donation in kind from her Noonday Collection.
Annalisa Barron, who did pre-party work on garden improvements everywhere and provided help with her truck, won a certificate for Jembetat Gallery and Cafe,
Gene Brugnoni, for the most work on standing property improvement, chose a Pontillo’s Pizza certificate.
Bonnie Abrams, for never missing a birthday, Donna Richardson for the same and her ongoing generosity; each got a gift certificate to Village Coal Tower Restaurant
Pearl Monique, for most consistently attending every party since we started, likes art and was thrilled to receive the Sylvan Starlight Creation gift certificate.
Maria Venette, for keeping things running in the right direction and clarifying the confusing, didn’t hesitate to choose a big bonus from Lock 32 Brewing Company.
Margie Campaigne, for being a good sport about not getting her prepaid lunch, won the Susan Plunkett’s Fabulous Foods certificate for two.
The most exciting prize, won by raffle, went to David Ross, an educational ride on the renowned Sam Patch historic packet boat replica, October 11 at 6 pm, in the company of Pittsford mayor Rob Corby, and A Frog House founder Margot Fass and Star Board members:
If you didn’t win and want to support a famous local treasure, buy a ticket directly NOW by calling (585) 662-5748 and asking for A Frog House Tour on October 11 at 6 pm. Tickets for this event will go online on September 1 at Sam Patch. This event only benefits the non-profit agency Corn Hill Navigation that runs the Sam Patch tours, connecting the community and visitors to Rochester’s historic waterways, although contributions to A Frog House are always welcome.
Finally: Never have I felt happier or more loved on a birthday. Maybe I could turn eighty again soon, just for the joy of it. Family and friends and newcomers right off the canal path, and regular and new supporters were full of care for A Frog House endeavors, and full of love for what we believe in. Our premises were green and beautiful, our flowers abloom and the weather sublime. The only thing that went horribly wrong was a missing pre-ordered lunch.
What gratitude I feel for our beloved community of supporters. Inventiveness, dedication to our trembling environment, generosity, hilarity, good will and good food. A Frog House sends love, so much love, and hope to those who need it. May you all stay safe and healthy.