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Prognosticating Groundhogs

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Punxsutawney Phil shares limelight with Charles G. Hog and others

 

By Diane Larson
For ButteNews.net

 

On February 12, 1993, Groundhog Day the movie with Bill Murray and Andi MacDowell, was released. This movie told the story of a weatherman that was charged with doing local coverage of the Groundhogs Day celebration in Punxsutawney. The film introduced Punxsutawney Phil to many of us for the first time. That movie put Phil and the town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, on the map and in the spotlight.

 

However, Phil isn’t the only Marmota monax, or, groundhog that is an early prognosticator of the weather. Around the nation and world, there are others that possess the same skills as Phil. Here are a few.

 

Dunkirk Dave lives in New York with his handler Bob. Dave, with the help of his friends Bob and Bill, maintains his own website at www.dunkirkdave.com where you can learn about Dave, groundhogs in general and his friends.

 

Now we head down south where General Beauregard Lee. General Lee holds “two honorary doctoral degrees and a commendation from the National Weather Service,” says History Stories (/News). He lives on his own plantation complete with a miniature white-columned mansion. The General appeared on television in 1988 and has since been the go-to marmot in the southeastern seaboard for predictions of spring.

 

Sir Walter Wally, now known to most as just Wally hails from North Carolina. According to parade.com Wally is a year-round resident of the Museum of Natural Sciences. There are other prognosticating groundhogs in N.C. According to starnewsonline.com, there is Grady at Chimney Rock State Park; Sunshine and Stormy at N.C. Zoo Wildlife Rehabilitation Center; Nibbles at the WNC Nature Center in Asherville and Queen Charlotte in Charlotte, N.C.

 

 

Buckeye Chuck lives in Marion, Ohio and has been predicting when spring would arrive since the 1870s.  Last year in 2017 Chuck predicted an early spring, while Phil predicted 6 more weeks of winter, according to Cleveland.com.

 

Another Chuck, this one is from Tennessee is Chattanooga Chuck. Chuck is the local forecaster of spring and resides at The Tennessee Aquarium. According to tnaqua.org’s website, Chuck is also a bit of a poet. The beginning of his official statement,

“Good morning to all from my rooftop lair!

You’re here to learn if the weather will be fair,

Or if ice and snow will soon come around

 Before springtime blooms adorn the town.”

 

 Our third Chuck in the line-up is Staten Island Chuck. Staten Island Chuck’s formal name is Charles G. Hogg and began his prognostication career in 1981. Like Sam, Chuck maintains his own Twitter account to keep in touch with his followers. Even though he may not be as famous as some other groundhogs, Chuck did enjoy his 15 minutes of fame when in 2009 he bit the finger of the then Mayor Michael Bloomberg during the city’s Groundhog celebrations.

 

All the way over in Canada we find Nova Scotia native, Shubencadie Sam. Sam lives in the Shubencadie Provincial Wildlife Park. Sam’s living accommodations are a bit more humble than other groundhog celebs, says History Stories (/News) living in a hollowed out log. Sam enjoys a huge Twitter following and fans all over the globe can follow him on his webcam. You can check Sam out at https://www.novascotiawebcams.com/en/webcams/shubenacadie-sam/

 

Some basic fun facts about groundhogs according to Starnewsonline.com

1.       Groundhog day was officially adopted in the U.S. in 1887 in Punxsutawney, PA

2.       The day is celebrated on February 2 because it is about halfway between winter solstice and spring equinox.

3.       Groundhogs are also known as woodchucks or whistle-pigs.

4.       They build impressive burrows that can be as much as 8 feet to 66 feet long.

5.       They hibernate and go into a dormant state from late fall until late winter or early spring. They wake when it is time to mate.

 

History.com says that Groundhogs Day has its roots in the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas. Candlemas is when the clergy bless and distribute candle needed for winter. The candles were meant to represent how long and cold the winter would be.

 

It was the Germans who changed things up and started using an animal as a means of predicting. They choose the hedgehog. When they came to America it was the Germans who settled I Pennsylvania that continued the tradition.

 

Old Groundhog stretched in his leafy bed.

He turned over slowly and then he said,

“I wonder if spring is on the way,

I’ll go and check the weather today…”

~Author Unknown, “Ground Day” from quotethegarden.com

 


 


 

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