Who's behind the Mandarin frogs?

Frogs pop up all over Mandarin, sparking curiosity of residents

By Crystal Moyer - Traffic/reporter

An amphibian phenomenon has caught the attention of Mandarin residents, who have been noticing frogs popping up all over the neighborhood. 

The painted, concrete frogs are for a good cause. The only problem is that no one knows who's doing it. 

"Frogs all around, sometimes in the trees, in the street, making a path," said Mercedes Mikulic, who lives in Mandarin. 

It sparked curiosity throughout the Mandarin area of Jacksonville. 

But Thursday, News4Jax found the mysterious Frog Man who's been making his mark all over Mandarin. 

PHOTOS: Frog sculptures around Mandarin

"I'm a thief in reverse. I leave something," said Frog Man, who did not want to reveal his identity. But his family has been part of Mandarin since the 1700s. 

"They were mayors. They were justices of the city," he said. 

He made his first frog as a project in 1987. It wasn't until last year that he decided to share his hobby with the community. 

"There was so much stuff that was bad going on last year, and the year before," Frog Man said. "And I thought people just needed a smile."

But the frogs in the parks quickly disappeared. City officials told him, "they were historically inappropriate for the park."

"I thought I'd be in jail right now for vandalism," Frog Man said. 

That only motivated him to create even more frogs.

Some blend into the surroundings. Some stand out. No two frogs are alike. 

"All I want people to do is just look at them and enjoy them," he said. 

Now the frogs are taking on another purpose. The profits from each frog will go to benefit the Mandarin Museum and Historical Society, with more than $4,000 having been donated so far this year.

"It's overwhelming. I would have never thought, when I put that first one down on that stump over there, that this would be such a phenomenon. It still hasn't soaked in yet," Frog Man said. 

He said he enjoys creating the frogs, and has even started making squirrels. He doesn't want any praise, he said he just does it all for the community. 

"A lot of these people, I've worked for them. They don't even know me. They know me as the 'Frog Man,' my alter ego," he said. 

The frogs are made of concrete. The Frog Man puts concrete in a mold and sits it in the sun. Sometimes it can take several days for the concrete to cure before it can be painted. Each frog is hand-painted before it's displayed throughout Mandarin or sold at the Mandarin Museum.

His neighbors support his hobby and what it stands for. 

"We love them and I think it's a wonderful story," Mikulic said. "Thank you to whoever did it."

Anyone can purchase their own frog or squirrel, painted or unpainted, at the Mandarin Museum from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. 

The Mandarin Museum and Historical Society is also seeking volunteers to help with yard work and upkeep of the old house.