OPINION

The Forgotten Holiday

Staff Writer
Dallas County News

One of my favorite holidays came and went last week with nary a nod of acknowledgement from area residents. Kids didn’t have a day off from school, mail was delivered to our homes, government offices were open for business with our public servants diligently bent over their desks, and of course, traffic was snarled, as usual, on 75. And no marching bands and no parades…

Ah, so what exactly was this forgotten holiday? Groundhog Day, folks! Groundhog Day—the day that the real weather prognosticators weigh in with their forecasts of what’s to come.

At 7:25 a.m. last Monday, the day after the Super Bowl when some fans were still celebrating and others were crying in their proverbial beer, in the west-central Pennsylvania town of Punxsutawney the nation’s No. 1 weather prognosticator once again made his announcement. Members of the mysterious group known as the Inner Circle, donned in top hats and tuxedos for the annual Groundhog Day ceremony on Gobblers Knobb, knocked on Punxsutawney Phil’s palatial quarters and he was brought out to a cheering crowd of some 11,000 fans.

The official proclamation by the Inner Circle announced Phil’s translated prediction (since he speaks only in “groundhogease”): “Yes, a shadow I see, six more weeks of winter will be.”

All this hoopla has been going on since 1887. Phil has seen his shadow 102 times while predicting an early spring only 17 times. There apparently are no records for the missing nine years.

My wife Marge will be the first one to tell you that I’m not a skeptic. After all, have I not received every year, for many, many years, a present from Santa and a basket from the Easter Bunny, that apparently in the dead of night are mysteriously delivered to Marge for her, to use the legal term, “care, custody and control.” But, and here’s the big but, what is gnawing at me is this: Phil’s forecast came after a predawn rain which turned to snow as the temperature steadily dropped from the high 30s to below freezing. So what is the likelihood of seeing shadows? Hmm…

While Punxsutawney Phil remains the top celebrity, the top three counterparts in the weather prognosticating brotherhood, General Beauregard Lee in Atlanta, Ga., Buckeye Chuck in Dayton, Ohio and Staten Island Chuck in New York did not see their shadows and proclaimed that spring was on its way.

By the way, there was some high stakes drama in New York as Staten island Chuck, obviously grumpy about the whole business of being pulled out of his warm wooden home, took a chomp out of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was on hand for the celebration. Bloomberg denied allegations by pundits that it was Chuck’s revenge after Bloomberg slashed the city zoo budget by 15 percent.

Asked if Staten Island Chuck might be tossed in groundhog jail, Hizzoner quipped, “If the district attorney wants to press charges, I’ll leave it up to him…”