SPRING IS COMING SAYS CHUCK!
Groundhog Chuck made his prediction at the Staten Island Zoo at 7:30 a.m.
Click to Watch Video of Chuck’s prediction!
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — It’s official — or as official as groundhogs can make a prediction: We’ll see an early spring this year.
Lured out of his house, Charles G. Hogg, better known as Staten Island Chuck, did not see his shadow and declared that winter will be over in two weeks.
“No shadow,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “Spring is coming.”
Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil, meanwhile — called for six more weeks of winter.
With all eyes on the pair with a rich history, Chuck did not bite Hizzoner today, instead acting as a sophisticated rodent.
“I think I have to be magnanimous and say that he put up a good fight,” Bloomberg quipped after it took a few minutes to coax — more like drag — Chuck out of his winter home
“I think it’s clear who the champion really was. Last year, I was willing to put that finger, right here, in the way to protect the people of this great borough. The only thing that stood between Chuck and you getting bitten was my finger and I have a scar to prove exactly how much I love one off the five best boroughs we have.”
The mayor donned heavy work animal-handling gloves this year after last year’s leather proved no match for the groundhog.
It didn’t seem like spring — it was cold at the Zoo with temperatures in the mid-20s this morning. Chuck’s prediction will get an early test with about an inch of snow forecast for tonight and another storm possible Friday night.
Children, their parents and curious onlookers started gathering early as the gates opened at about 6:45 a.m.
“I want him to say spring — it’s freezing,” Michelle Sulkin, 9, of Grasmere said before the ceremony began.
Her friend Jessica Maizer, 10, of Dongan Hills, disagreed.
“I like winter,” she said, adding that she had just been ice skating over the weekend.
In the moments leading up to the ceremony, children began chanting ‘We want Chuck’ as Bloomberg took his place on the podium. Advance Editor Brian Laline presided over the ceremony and a number of other elected officials and community leaders were on hand.
Albert Cardone, 8, of West Brighton, brought a First Aid kit in case Hizzoner needed medical attention.
“I’m pretty much ready for the sun,” he said, revealing his desire for winter to end.
Groundhog Day stems from the ancient belief that hibernating creatures were able to predict the arrival of springtime by their emergence. The German immigrants known as the Pennsylvania Dutch brought the tradition to the United States in the 18th century.
Had Chuck seen his shadow, it would have signified six more weeks of winter.
Check SILive.com later this morning for photos and video from the Zoo.