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Musical frogs bring whimsy to the Winthrop landscape

A quintet of human-sized musical frogs has joined the Winthrop University campus.

La Frogette, dressed in a garnet-and-gold ballerina costume, will forever dance the "Frog Lake" ballet while the Amphibian Quartet - violinists Leopold and Igor Frogawaski and trumpeters Louie the Lip and Dizzy the Cheeks - perform beside her.

The five-piece statue was installed this past week on the campus green, in front of the DiGiorgio Campus Center.

Irwin and Carol Belk presented the statue to the university in the spring.

Belk is a member of the family that established the Belk department store chain and was president of the Belk Finance Company. He is also a former North Carolina senator and former member of the House of Representatives.

This is not the first time Belk has given to the university.

The 400-meter outdoor track near Winthrop Lake is named after him, based on his love of the sport. The bronze eagle at the front of campus and athletic statues at the university's athletic campus are also gifts from Belk.

President Anthony DiGiorgio awarded Belk an honorary degree in December because of his generosity to the campus community, said Amanda Stewart, director of communications and donor relations in the university's office of development.

"Belk's life has been one of service and philanthropy," she said. "He supports Winthrop and a number of other schools and organizations and is an enthusiastic advocate for education."

Belk commissioned and purchased the bronze statues from David Stellerberg with Great American Bronze Works in Westlake Village, Calif.

Stewart said Belk worked with Stellerberg to add Winthrop-centric features, including the garnet-and-gold school colors and university logos.

Interested in the city of Rock Hill's annual Come-See-Me Festival and its frog mascot, Belk chose the amphibians as an homage to the event, she said.

"The portion of the campus green where they have been placed is also where the Teddy Bear Tea Party, a Come-See-Me and Winthrop tradition, will be held each year," Stewart said.

In the future, there will be more landscaping around the statues.

The new additions were enough to catch the eye of a family visiting from Richland, Texas.

Adrianna Goodland has been touring campuses across the south with her daughter, who is searching for a smaller, liberal arts school.

"We love it," Goodland said as they approached the statues, camera in tow. "We saw it and said, 'We have to take a picture.'"

It reminded them of "The Frog Princess," she said.

"It's absolutely beautiful," Goodland said. "It's whimsical."