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Icy weather sidelines Malverne Mel

On Groundhog Day 2007, Malverne Mel did not

On Groundhog Day 2007, Malverne Mel did not see his shadow, telling Malverne Mayor Anthony Panzarella to expect an early spring. (Feb. 2, 2007) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Bad weather will keep Malverne Mel from making his annual Groundhog Day weather prediction Wednesday but the furry forecaster won't be entirely absent from the rodent-related meteorological prognostications.

Malverne Mayor Patricia Norris-McDonald made the decision Tuesday to cancel Mel's public appearance after reports of dangerous, icy conditions for the morning. It's the first time in 15 years the village has canceled the annual event.

"I am very disappointed that we had to do this," Norris-McDonald said, "but in my heart, I know it was the right thing to do."

Although the public celebration was canceled, Malverne Mel will make an appearance inside Village Hall at 9 a.m.

"The groundhog will still whisper his prediction in her ear," said Malverne Mel's caretaker, Andre Ricaud, referring to the mayor.

Legend has it that, just as with his more famous cousin, Punxsutawney Phil, if Mel doesn't see his shadow, spring will come earlier. If he does see his shadow, winter will continue for six more weeks.

"I have a very strong feeling he is going to say it is going to be an early spring," Norris-McDonald said.

Despite the weather, Mel's counterpart, Holtsville Hal, will still make his grand prediction in front of an audience at 7 a.m. at the Town of Brookhaven Ecology Site, Park & Animal Preserve.

"It's a tradition," said April Terry, ground superintendent at the preserve. "February 2nd is officially Groundhog Day."

New York City's weather forecasting groundhog Staten Island Chuck is also expected to make his official prediction at 7:30 a.m. during a celebration at the Staten Island Zoo.

Malverne's mayor remained optimistic that the tradition will resume.

"Malverne Mel will be back next year," Norris-McDonald said.

Seeing LI's groundhogs

Holtsville Hal, Suffolk County

Where: Town of Brookhaven Ecology Site, Park & Animal Preserve on Buckley Road in Holtsville.

When: Wednesday at 7:25 a.m.

Weather Forecast: For Holtsville and Malverne at 7 a.m.: Cloudy around 31 degrees with freezing rain and sleet. East wind at 15 mph.

Nassau County's Malverne Mel's public appearance has been canceled.

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