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Big Run’s Frog Man reports silence from the swamp ... for now

March 7, 2012

John London displays some of the many frog items he’s collected over the years, since he is, after all, Big Run’s one and only “Frog Man.” (Photo by Dan Long/The Punxsutawney Spirit)

BIG RUN — It’s almost time for the peepers of Big Run to let everyone know that spring will soon arrive.

“Any day now,” says Big Run resident John London, who has been tracking the peepers since 1972.

London frequently walks near the swamps of Big Run to listen for the peepers, but as of yet, he has has not heard anything.

When the weather gets warm enough, the peepers will emerge from the mud and begin to peep, but London believes they have been affected by the strange winter this year.

“I have not seen a winter this mild,” he said.

London still predicts the frogs will peep before this year’s 18th annual banquet, which will be held Sunday, March 18, at the War Memorial.

Jefferson County Commission Vice-Chairman Jim McIntyre will serve as the guest speaker. However, this year, residents of Big Run will not salute a Citizen of the Year.

London’s peeper-listening began in 1972, when he was working outdoors and heard frogs peeping.

“I wondered if the frogs start peeping this time every year, or if it’s different?” he thought.

He jotted down when he first heard the peepers that year, and has tracked them ever since. And since 1993, Peeper-Mania has caught the attention of numerous media outlets, such as The Punxsutawney Spirit; The Indiana Gazette; The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; The Courier Express; WPXZ; WDVE; WTMX-Chicago; WTHL-Somerset, Ky.; WMKX-FM; KDKA-TV; the Weather Channel; and many others.

In 1994, the first-ever Peepers Banquet was held.

There is no exact timetable when spring will start after the peepers begin peeping, London said, but just an indication that it is on the horizon.

London believes Punxsutawney Phil and the Big Run Peepers work together to let everyone know when spring is coming.

“Phil predicts it, and the peepers prove it,” he said.

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