Today was a little bittersweet for Chris and me. For the past couple of weeks we have anxiously been planning a trip to attend the official Groundhog Day prognostication at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsatawney, Pennsylvania. If all had gone according to schedule we would have left after work last night, and would have seen Punxsatawney Phil’s prediction early this morning in the flesh. Complete with a top-hat-clad “Inner Circle” and other week-long festivities, we were really looking forward to the day in Pennsylvania. But with the nasty winter storm warning to our North, and the onset of my illness, we had to come up with an alternative celebration for today. Fortunately, with some smart planning on my dad’s part, and the good fortune of my fever breaking this morning, we were able to take part in the first annual Groundhog Day Ceremony at the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News, Virginia.
My parents had already decided to go to this event so we were lucky enough to hitch a ride with them this morning. We got to the ceremony site in front of the museum about a half hour early and watched the WAVY-TV news crew setup while several busloads of elementary school children arrived. The kids were given a choice between blue papers if they preferred six more weeks of winter, and green ones if it was spring they really wanted, and almost all of them were wearing adorable paper Groundhog hats they’d each colored themselves. They were all so excited and I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a big group of kids so well-behaved for an extended period of time. While we were waiting for the noon prediction Chris introduced himself to the museum’s Marketing Manager/Webmaster, Judy Triska, and told her a little bit about our project. She was really great and even snagged us a few minutes with George Mathews, Jr., the museum’s curatorial Director, later in the day.
Around noon the festivities began. The WAVY-TV meteorologist, Jeremy Wheeler, was introduced to the crowd and he gave us a little information surrounding the holiday, explaining that people have used animals and insects to predict weather patterns throughout history. After a few minutes George Mathews, Jr. brought out the museum’s groundhog ambassador and the furry little guy made his official prediction.