In an effort to promote the arts as well as civic pride, Erie launched LeapFrog, a venture in which local businesses and artists collaborated to produce a series of unique statues. Among the project’s patrons? Gannon University, of course!

So, why frogs?

The LeapFrog commission considered a handful of possibilities before landing on frogs. Each friendly statue, either squatting or standing at about eight-feet tall, began as a blank slate. Many artists used paint as the chief medium, while others incorporated mirrors, mosaic tiles and even a water fountain. Over 100 finished pieces – some modeled after recognizable figures like Elvis and Thomas Jefferson – were unveiled on Leap Day 2004.

One statue stands right outside Waldron Campus Center. The tuxedo-clad frog, named “I Only Have Flies for You,” characterizes Jim and Pat Keim, the debonair socialite couple of Erie’s heyday.

Another was created by Gannon communications professor MC Gensheimer. The bright yellow frog holds three tall fiberglass flowers – a lily for beauty, a daisy for loyalty and a sunflower for pride. A letter-S motif decorates its legs, representing the original owners of Gannon’s Old Main, the Strong family. It now resides inside Waldron.

You can spot more statues scattered around town. Proceeds from LeapFrog benefited Gannon University’s scholarship fund and the Erie Art Museum.

Gannon A to Z: E is for Environaut