I grew up in Connecticut and visiting my sister in Mansfield, we had to cross the Frog Bridge of Willimantic. Now, you may think having 11 foot bronze frogs on the four corners of the bridge ridiculous but to the people of Willimantic it’s a badge of honor.
In 1754, having done battle with the French and the Indians, the militia were on the alert. One night in June, they were awaken by a cacophony of noise. Some were sure it was the French, others just as sure it was Indians. The noise was so terrifying some were convinced it was the Day of Judgment and fell to their knees.
Many brave militia men grabbed their muskets and ran to the battle. Though they searched and even fired rounds toward the noise, they did not come in contact with the enemy.
In the morning an investigation began. It was soon discovered that the horrendous noise had not come from the French, Indians or even God. The town people had been in a drought for some time and most ponds had dried up. There was one pond left in the area and masses of frogs had converged and fought a huge battle over territory. Hundreds of frogs lay dead and dying at the pond.
News spread of the silly Willimantic residents being terrified by a bunch of frogs. They were shamed for a couple of decades. Then someone pointed out that they could have been being attacked and they had been armed and ready. The frog fight lost it’s shame and became a symbol of honor.
So, in Connecticut, we look at the Frog Bridge with pride for the New England spirit of readiness it symbolizes. And we secretly smile because nothing is better to a New Englander than a good joke on ourselves.
ps The frogs sit on thimbles of thread because Willimantic was a thread mill center at one time.