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By Steven Mayer/The Californian
BY CHRISTINE BEDELL Californian government editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Green Frog Market's iconic "Howdy Folks" sign is hopping on down to Southern California.
Market owner Scott Hair decided to donate the sign to the Museum of Neon Art, which will be moving to Glendale when its new building is finished and opened in mid-2014, he and the museum's director said.
The museum was interested in the piece because of its uniqueness and history, Director Kim Koga said. It's a pole-mounted sign -- of which there aren't many anymore -- plus it's animated and has been owned by one family for decades, she said.
The sign will be placed at the museum's entrance.
"When people walk into the new museum, it will greet everyone," a clearly delighted Koga said of our frog.
The museum picked up the piece Tuesday. It will need refurbishment, Koga said, because it's suffered some vandalism and broken glass.
She said it will join such iconic items as an old Brown Derby (restaurant) sign that once stood at Hollywood and Vine and two 30-foot dragons that once adorned Grauman's Chinese Theatre.
Kern County Museum officials had expressed interest in the sign once they learned the store was closing, both to Hair and other store employees. Executive Director Roger Perez said he and his museum colleagues were "saddened" to hear it wouldn't be added to their collection.
Hair said he just felt that the Museum of Neon Art was the best home for the frog, being that it's "perhaps the most prestigious museum for neon art in the world" and yet still accessible to locals.
"It's a unique opportunity for a piece of Bakersfield art to be shared with the world," Hair said.
He stressed that he is talking to Kern County Museum officials about taking some artifacts from the Green Frog Market that Hair and his family are finding, such as old ledgers and photographs.
Hair didn't know too much about the history of the sign, except that he thinks it was made in the 1930s and purchased from a Green Frog in Stockton in the late 1940s.
Bakersfield's last Green Frog Market, at Bernard and Alta Vista streets on the east side, closed a few weeks ago. Hair said there's no new news to share about whether the family will open a new one somewhere else in town.