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Groundhog Day is going to look a little different this year, but also the same

There have been a number of changes to the Groundhog Day forecasting scene last year, and Groundhog Day might be a little different for you depending on who your local prognosticator is.

While most forecasters are having in person events for the first time since 2020, many others are remaining virtual due to the ongoing global pandemic.

Beyond this, a number of Groundhog Day forecasters have passed away since last Groundhog Day. Scramble the Duck, from Eastford, Connecticut passed away late last year at the age of 7. He is being replaced by Scramble the Duck Jr., supposedly the offspring of the original Scramble. Western Maryland Murray from Cumberland, Maryland passed away in June of 2021, after living a relatively long life of 14  years. A replacement for Murray will provide a prediction this year, although it is unknown what the new prognosticator will be named.

It was recently revealed that Wiarton Willie, from Wiarton, Ontario actually died before last Groundhog Day. Due to an inability to locate another albino groundhog, this year’s Wiarton Willie will be brown.

Milltown Mel, one of New Jersey’s most prominent groundhogs passed away shortly before the holiday, and there is not enough time to find a replacement. A new Milltown Mel is expected to be in place for 2023.

Essex Ed, another prominent New Jersey groundhog, who lives at the Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, has retired from forecasting. His cousin Essex Edwina will be taking his place, and providing her first Groundhog Day prediction this year. Queen Charlotte from the Charlotte Nature Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina has also retired but it does not appear as if there are any immediate plans for a replacement.

Shipoke Sheena, the dog from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, who dressed as a bear and pretended to be a groundhog, recently moved to New Orleans and retired from forecasting due to health concerns.

Unadilla Bill, a taxidermy mount groundhog is being retired in favor of Unadilla Billie, another stuffed groundhog. Pieces of Unadilla Bill kept falling off, including several fingers, prompting the change.

At least one new entirely new Groundhog Day tradition is starting this year. Okanagan Okie, a yellow-bellied marmot, will make his debut at Allan Brooks Nature Centre in Vernon, British Columbia.

Although there have been a lot of changes since the last Groundhog Day season, one thing still remains the same: it’s going to be a fun day for all.

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