Independence Day is a big deal to the people of rural America. Not to say it isn’t for urban dwellers as well, but in the country because we don’t have other forms of entertainment (like I talked about in a previous blog post) so we make the most of the holidays. In our corner of the world, the town of Springfield, located right along the Missouri River, is the center of the Fourth of July Celebration. The town works together to put on a fantastic program, complete with a 5K run, all kinds of events for the kids, a fantastic fireworks show and the Frog Jump.
Now to people who have never been acquainted with this unique event, a Frog Jump is a competition that actually involves the named amphibian. Participants buy frogs on an auction which are used later that evening in the frog jumping contest. On each participant’s turn, they place their frog in a center circle. The frog then gets three hops, where the furthest distance he jumps from the center of the circle is the recorded distance. Participants can try to”shoo” the frog, but cannot touch it in any way. The frog that jumps the farthest wins the contest, and the participant that bought the frog takes home the jackpot.
If this sounds a bit silly at first, a critical component is that this is actually a big fundraiser for the Fourth Celebration. You see, the frogs are auctioned off for several hundred dollars each. The winning frog this year was purchased for $580. Because the frogs sell for so much and winner gets a percentage of the frog auction, the winning participant this year received over $2300. This year’s winner jumped 12′ 8″, out jumping the second place frog by almost a foot!
Of course, no celebration of our nation’s independence is complete without gunpowder. After the Frog Jump, the crowd moved over to a hill to the north, moving back to watch the fireworks. Carolyn and I, being bold as we are, stayed on the bleachers to be closer to the action. And what a thrill it was! Springfield has a fireworks display that rivals Epcot, and that’s not a hyperbole. Hundreds of fireworks went off over the course of a half hour, culminating in a grand finale that left us speechless.
Being as close as Carolyn and I were to the launch site, we could feel the concussion from each artillery shell as it burst from its tube on the ground. We saw all the colors of the rainbow light up the night sky as the blasts reverberated off the river bluffs around us. It was a great night and a great time in small town South Dakota.