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Jimmy the groundhog Sun Prairie WIGroundhog Day is not the most popular holiday in February. It is hard to compete with Valentine’s Day when the event consists of waking up at 7am to see if a groundhog walks around for a little while. Groundhog Day has stood the test of time though, and that is for one reason; hope. We gather on February 2nd because we are hopeful for a brighter future, and hope is as powerful an emotion as any. Groundhog Day is one of the first days of the year when we can reasonably look forward to the spring and summer months with hopes and aspirations.

It can be hard to make it through the cold and bleak winter months here in Indiana, but Groundhog Day offers a hope for an early reprieve. On Thursday, February 2nd, we will continue a tradition that has lasted more than 100 years and lifted the spirits of those struggling with the shorter days and infrequent sunlight. It is a tradition unlike any other, and is an event that all people in this country can participate in together.

The modern version of Groundhog Day can be traced back to 1887 in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania where a local newspaper editor had the idea of creating the event. Every year, thousands of people make the trip to Punxsutawney to see if the local groundhog, affectionately referred to as Punxsutawney Phil, will see his shadow, or not. If he sees his shadow we are destined to have 6 more weeks of winter, but if he does not, then we should expect an early spring.

There is little argument about the reliability of using a groundhog to make meteorological predictions. Everyone understands that Groundhog Day is just wholesome fun. People of all ages and backgrounds come together to hope for a speedy return of spring and warmer weather.

One of our local native animals has a reputation for being able to tell when – the Metea Park “Marvin”. We are going to encourage him with a little celebration held in his honor. Learn about hibernation, the history of woodchuck weathermen, sing some Groundhog Day songs, and go looking for Metea Park Marvin.
Will he see his shadow on Thursday, February 2nd at 5pm? Or will he just hibernate through his special day at Metea County Park Nature Center, located at 8401 Union Chapel Road?

To register or for more information, email: bdispenza@allencountyparks.org or call 449-8619 and ask for Bob Dispenza, Park and Education Manager.

Groundhog Day is a fun tradition that helps us get through the Indiana winters, and I think we can all appreciate that.

Jay McClintock
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