Several years back, along Broad Street on New Year’s Day, Michael McGrail heard cops shouting: “Frog Down! Frog Down!”
A fellow Mummer who’d also strutted with the Froggy Carr Wench Brigade that year was passed out on the sidewalk.
At 8:45 a.m.
The police told McGrail they were going to take the man into custody, but McGrail and another Mummer intervened and got the man in a cab to send him back to the clubhouse.
But first, they propped him up and posed him for a picture.
That experience inspired McGrail to create buttons for the 2020 Mummers Parade for Froggy Carr members and those who march with the club that read: “If LOST and/or DRUNK PLEASE CALL TOLL FREE 844-WHO-DATT for my safe return to The Froggy Carr Club.”
“Who Dat” is the club’s well-known chant, and McGrail has secured the number and a telephone prompt system for those who call it.
Concerned callers will be asked to describe the condition of the Frog they’ve found: “Press 1 if lost. Press 2 if drunk. Press 3 if both.”
Callers will then be asked to provide their name and phone number along with the location of the lost and/or drunk Mummer so “a member of our Leap Frog Home Team” can coordinate a ride back to the club for them.
McGrail is still considering whether designated drivers will be picking up the Mummers or if he’ll use a rideshare service, like Uber or Lyft, to get them home.
Since McGrail is paying for the 300 pins out of his own pocket, he plans to sell them and put unique numbers under each pin, so they can be verified. He expects a small percentage of people who buy the buttons will use the service, but if one lost Mummer is safely returned back to the club, it will be worth it, he said.
“In my history of going down to the parade, I know for a fact there are guys that have been out there for days before returning home. It’s not unusual at all," he said. “Meanwhile, either their significant other is upset or their mother is worried half to death.”
Despite an overwhelming sense that many of the participants and spectators of the Mummers Parade are inebriated — Philadelphia Police said they’ve not arrested or cited anyone for public drunkenness in the city on New Year’s Day over the last three years.
McGrail, a“semi-retired” adman, has been coming up with gimmicks for Froggy Carr for years. He’s been a Mummer since he was 19 and once even had his own brigade — The Juniata Strutters. But when that club lost a sustainable membership about 15 years ago, McGrail started strutting with Froggy Carr.
He’s not an official member of the Froggy Carr brigade, given that membership is limited to about 120 people and it can take 15 to 20 years to get into the club, but McGrail is among the 400-plus Mummers who buy a Froggy Carr suit every year and strut down Broad Street with the club.
Froggy Carr Captain Joe Renzi said he thinks McGrail’s button idea is “nuts." He said the club would not officially endorse it because McGrail is not a member and thus, he could not bring his idea before the board.
“We don’t endorse it. We don’t decline it,” Renzi said of the buttons. “I told him to give it a try and see what happens.”
While Froggy Carr has a reputation as one of the wildest brigades — they once held a sit-in during the parade because their captain was arrested while defending their beer stash — Renzi said the club’s members and those who strut with them don’t party any harder than any other Mummers.