Tulalip Bullfrog Jumping Contest draws record turnout

TULALIP — The Tulalip Boys & Girls Club was hopping with activity on July 22 as more than two dozen area kids were on their feet even more than their often stubborn warty partners during the Club's ninth annual Bullfrog Jumping Contest in its gymnasium.

Kyle Cullum still has fond memories of catching bullfrogs with his parents when he was a child and he's aimed to recreate that experience for the next generations to follow by having them go out and grab some frogs in the local swamps to enter into the contest. This year, he and Tulalip parent Kevin Johnson wound up catching the bulk of the frogs themselves, staying out well past midnight on the evenings of July 20 and 21 to do so.

"You've got to wait until it's pitch dark and then blind them with your flashlight," Cullum said. "After we're done with them, we put them back into nature. I normally get my frogs from Veterans Pond, but because I was sick this whole week, I had to stick to the lakes nearest to my house."

Chuck Packer, manager of the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club, had nothing but praise for Cullum's annual program.

"It expands every year," Packer said. "The contest is merely the culmination of an entire 'Frog Week' of singing songs, coloring pictures and learning facts about frogs. Kyle is just dynamite with these kids. He's positive, he's upbeat, he really loves kids and he has a very creative mind."

Packer estimated that this year's pool of contestants exceeded their previous peak participation of 20 kids. Even though they only had eight frogs to share between them, with each child going one at a time to see how far they could make their chosen frogs jump in three jumps, the frogs often seemed impatient to leap.

Cypher Celestine, a 6-year-old from Tulalip, managed to persuade his frog to jump the farthest distance that night — 5 feet, 7 inches — but Tulalip Boys & Girls Club Program Director Diane Prouty made sure there were prizes enough for all the contestants to choose from.

"I went to Kmart and Walmart and got all things frog that I could," Prouty laughed. "I got frog yo-yos, frog socks, frog pillows, frog hats, frog keychains, frog everything."

J.C. Pavlo, an 8-year-old whose frog cleared a distance of 3 feet, 5 inches, enjoyed his first Tulalip Bullfrog Jumping Contest.

"It was cool," Pavlo said. "It's not difficult to pick your frog up, but you have to watch out for where it goes."

Tanner Paul, 14, took part in the contest for the third time this year, but he was less concerned with motivating his own frog than with helping his little brother, 3-year-old Logan, do well. Big brother Tanner's guidance apparently paid off since Logan Paul's frog jumped the third-farthest distance that night, at 5 feet, 4 inches.

"It's more fun to watch the other kids now," Tanner Paul said.

"It's fun to get all these kids together and to see them get all excited," Johnson agreed. "I like helping the Boys & Girls Club, even if it means staying up until 1 a.m. in a dark, stinky swamp with water up to my elbows," he laughed.

"I've been doing this since I was 12, so I just decided to bring it here," Cullum said. "I think it contributes to a family-friendly atmosphere in the Marysville and Tulalip communities."


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