Groundhog Day is a popular tradition that dates back to the mid-1800s and has roots in the German communities of Pennsylvania. This weather folklore is based on using an animal to forecast the weather.
The most popular Groundhog Day ceremony takes place each year on February 2nd in the western Pennsylvania town of Punxsutawney. A mythical groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil comes out of his burrow to predict either an early spring or an extended winter. If Phil sees his shadow because of clear skies, it means winter will persist for six more weeks; however, if he doesn’t see his shadow because of clouds, spring is right around the corner.
On Wednesday afternoon the faculty, staff and students at Washington Lands Elementary School held their own Groundhog Day celebration. The school’s second-ever forecasting ceremony took place in the parking lot and began with Physical Education teacher Michael Grimm reading a proclamation, written by WLE Speech Therapist Becky Hinerman, similar to the one recited during the Punxsutawney festivities. Instead of a groundhog, a 6-year-old cat from the Marshall County Animal Shelter was used as the forecaster.
When Wildcat Wally, named temporarily after the school’s mascot, was lifted from her colorful cat carrier, she saw her shadow. Most students erupted with applause for the prognosis of a six more weeks of winter. Wildcat Wally’s prediction coincided with Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction earlier in the day. No matter the outcome, the entire student body enjoyed meeting Wildcat Wally.
In conjunction with the celebration, the school made a donation to the Marshall County Animal Shelter, sponsoring the adoption of one cat and one dog for someone in the community. Kit-Kat, the cat who played Wildcat Wally, is available for adoption at the animal shelter along with additional felines and canines.