On Groundhog Day each Feb. 2, the lore is that the furry creatures can predict whether we’ll face six more weeks of winter. But a better question to pose to the groundhogs this unseasonably warm year is, “Will we have winter weather at all?”
With Groundhog Day falling on a weekend, it may be easier for families to make it to Long Island festivities marking the day. Here are events during which groundhogs emerge to seek their shadows — either sending them back to hibernation for six more weeks of winter or forecasting an early spring:
This is the 25th year that a groundhog called Malverne Mel will make his prognostication. Mel secretly whispers to the village mayor through a trumpet-style earpiece, and the mayor proclaims the news to all. The musical quartet Banjo Rascals entertains the crowd, and hot chocolate, coffee, bagels and doughnut holes are served, says Jill Valli, the deputy village clerk. There’s also a petting zoo with goats, rabbits and chickens, and a volunteer dresses in a groundhog costume to mingle with the crowd.
WHEN | WHERE 6:45 to 8 a.m. at Crossroads Farm, 480 Hempstead Ave., Malverne
INFO Free; 516-599-1200, malvernevillage.org
Quigley at Quogue
Quigley the Groundhog makes his prediction at the library’s Third Annual Groundhog Day Celebration. Fire Marshall Chris Osborne puts on a formal top hat and calls out the news. Stay for hot chocolate, coffee and pastries.
WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m. at the Quogue Fire Department, 117 Jessup Ave., Quogue
INFO Free; 631-653-4224, quoguelibrary.org
Brookhaven’s Highway Superintendent Daniel P. Losquadro announces Holtsville Hal’s forecast each year — and he’s always hoping for an early spring to help out the town’s snow removal budget. Gates open at 7 a.m. and Losquadro will reveal Hal’s forecast at approximately 7:25 a.m., after which the animal preserve, typically closed on weekends in the winter, will be open through 11 a.m., gratis. Families can visit the more than 100 non-releasable, wild or injured animals and enjoy free hot chocolate.
WHEN | WHERE 7 a.m. at Holtsville Ecology Site & Animal Preserve, 249 Buckley Road, Holtsville
INFO Free; 631-758-9664, brookhavenny.gov
Families may not see a live groundhog at these locations, but they can still celebrate Groundhog Day:
Searching for Sweetbriar Sam
It’s not likely that Sam, a wild groundhog who lives in the ground at the center, will appear, but kids can still mark the day with a scavenger hunt to learn some facts about groundhogs, meet other live animals and make a groundhog craft to take home, says Eric Young, program director.
WHEN | WHERE 1 to 3 p.m. at the Sweetbriar Nature Center, 62 Eckernkamp Drive, Smithtown
INFO Advance registration required; $10 per child, $5 per adult; 631-979-6344, sweetbriarnc.org
The Furry Forecaster
Make a groundhog craft to take home. Geared to ages 3 and older.
WHEN | WHERE 2 to 4 p.m. at the Long Island Children’s Museum, 11 Davis Ave., Garden City
INFO Included with museum admission of $14 per person, younger than 1 are free; 631-224-5800, licm.org
Meet the Groundhogs
Long Island’s groundhogs are called into service on one day each February, but how do they spend the rest of the year?
The groundhogs playing the roles of Malverne Mel and Quigley from Quogue actually live at the Save The Animals Rescue Organization in Middle Island and are named Sam Champion and Al Roker, says Lori Ketcham, STAR director. “It’s an acting job for them,” she says of their Groundhog Day appearances. “They are also available for educational programs and occasionally things like commercials.”
Holtsville Hal lives at the Brookhaven Ecology Site. Sweetbriar Sam lives in the wild in the ground at the Sweetbriar Nature Center; that’s what makes it so difficult to know whether Sam will make an appearance at a Sweetbriar Groundhog Day event, says Eric Young, Sweetbriar’s program director.