The Calaveras County Fair’s annual Frog Jumping Jubilee is usually a happy time. While competitors still found joy in the competition, this year’s event was overshadowed by the death of a close friend.
Former champion Casey Nash had already qualified for Sunday’s finals when the 24-year old suddenly, and unexpectedly, passed away Saturday afternoon.
“Casey was one of a kind,” said family friend Laura Kitchell. “He loved everything about life.”
As fate would have it, Kitchell won this year’s world championship when her frog, “Reckless” jumped 19 feet, four and a half inches.
“I wasn’t sure I was going to jump today,” Kitchell noted. “But Casey’s family said he would want us to. So we carried on.”
The Jubilee’s Bob Lema remembers Nash as very smart… And enthusiastic.
“He grew up in Angels Camp,” said Lema. “When he won, there was a special excitement because the hometown boy won the frog jump.”
As volunteers and competitors from across the state looked on, a minute of silence was held during what would have been Nash’s turn to try for a second championship.
“That one minute is the time each jumper is allowed to put their frog down and jump it,” Lema explained.
By the time those sixty second had passed, there wasn’t a dry eye on the grounds.