The day has come where the fate of winter is in the hands of a furry rodent.
On Sunday morning, people travelled from far and wide to Wiarton, Ont., to get a glimpse of the semi-mythical albino groundhog during the annual Groundhog Day celebrations.
“We got up at 5 o’clock,” said Sauble Beach resident Brad Hill. “We partied a little bit; then, we made it down here to get a good spot.”
Legend has it when Wiarton Willie sees his shadow on February 2; it’s a sure sign that there will be six more weeks of winter.
Janice Jackson, the mayor of South Bruce Peninsula, says the Groundhog Day festival is the best part of her job.
“It’s all in good fun, it’s absolutely fantastic,” mentions Jackson, who says the town has been embracing the tradition for 64 years, “we are world renounced for Wiarton Willie it’s so much fun I’m so proud of Wiarton, and we have a ball.”
Over the past ten years, Wiarton Willie has seen his shadow five times, but Sunday he didn’t; and there was some confusion about what that meant.
“The mayor said six more weeks, but we all knew that’s not what that meant, so I rolled with it,” says Kevin Forget with Ontario Tourism.
“Then, once we realized that it was a mistake. I thought what the heck let’s just do Groundhog Day like the movie, and we did it all over again.”
As far as predictions go, Environment Canada’s seasonal forecast called for a warmer than usual winter in the Great Lakes region; and so far, that’s been true.
The average daytime high in January has been slightly above the freezing mark in Central Ontario, almost five degrees above average for the month. That trend is expected to continue over the short term.
Prognostications aside, there are still 46 days left until the spring equinox this year, and that happens to be a little more than six weeks away.