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Joe Manchin III, Governor

Frank Jezioro, Director

News Release
For release:
January 25, 2005


Hoy Murphy , Public Information Officer (304) 558-3380

Contact: Rob Silvester, Wildlife Resources Section (304) 924-6211


West Virginia State Wildlife Center to Celebrate Groundhog Day

   West Virginia State Wildlife Center 's weather prognosticator, French Creek Freddie, is poised to forecast the onset of spring on Wednesday, February 2, 2005 at 10 a.m. French Creek Freddie has undertaken his annual ritual at the Wildlife Center since 1978.

  “We really enjoy our annual Groundhog Day Celebration here at the Wildlife Center,” said Wildlife Center Biologist Rob Silvester. “Each year visitors gather in anticipation at Freddie's exhibit to witness his first glimpse of the New Year and issue his prediction.”


  The tradition of Groundhog Day is rooted in early European legend. According to tradition, Groundhog Day stems from similar beliefs associated with Candlemas Day, when, for centuries, early Christian clergy would bless candles and distribute them to the people. During the conquest of the northern country, Roman legions supposedly brought this tradition to the Teutons, or Germans, who concluded that if the sun made an appearance on Candlemas Day, the hedgehog would cast a shadow, thus predicting six more weeks of bad weather. The Germans would recite: For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day, so far will the snow swirl until the May .


  Early German settlers found another burrowing animal, the groundhog, more plentiful in the New World . Therefore, the groundhog replaced the hedgehog as the traditional “wise animal” which, upon seeing its shadow, would forecast another six weeks of winter.


  For more information about the annual Groundhog Day Celebration at the Wildlife Center, contact the West Virginia State Wildlife Center at P.O. Box 38, French Creek, WV 26218, phone: (304) 924-6211 or visit the DNR's web page at .


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