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Groundhogs Around The World: Gertie the Groundhog

Since 1993, a groundhog named Gertie has been providing a Groundhog Day prediction at the Wildlife Prairie Park in central Illinois.

Each Groundhog Day Gertie’s fans will gather at the 1800-acre zoological park, which is located right outside Peoria, to find out whether Gertie will see her shadow or not. Gertie sleeps inside her “house” until it is time to provide her annual prognostication. When the time is right, the house splits open to reveal Gertie sitting in a special heated plexiglass enclosure. The honorary Mayor for the day then announces Gertie’s forecast, letting the attendees know whether there will be 6 more weeks of winter or an early spring.

Gertie the Groundhog
Gertie the Groundhog. Picture courtesy Wildlife Prairie Park.

Before Gertie “awakens” musician Barry Cloyd leads the crowd in singing “Wake Up Gertie”, a song he wrote for just this occasion and which is Gertie’s official song.

The lyrics to “Wake Up Gertie” are as follows:

Wake up Gertie, Wake up!
Will your shadow come out to play?
Wake up Gertie, Wake up!
Let’s send winter on its way!

All winter long you’ve been hidin’ out,
Hibernatin’ in the cold and dark,
But with February knockin’ on your burrow door,
Will spring wake up the park?

Wake up Gertie, Wake up!
Will your shadow come out to play?
Wake up Gertie, Wake up!
Let’s send winter on its way!

Call them woodchucks, groundhogs, or whistlepigs,
It’s all the same to you,
Now that January’s gone with its ice and snow,
Well you know what you gotta do!

Wake up Gertie, Wake up!
Will your shadow come out to play?
Wake up Gertie, Wake up!
Let’s send winter on its way!
Let’s send winter on its way!
Let’s send winter on its way!
Let’s send winter on its way!

There are also often events and activities such as scavenger hunts, geocaching, and animal education, throughout the day.

Besides providing a Groundhog Day prediction, Gertie will also often provide a Super Bowl prediction. Some of her previous predicted winners include: 2021 – Kansas City Chiefs (incorrect), 2020 – San Francisco 49ers (incorrect), 2019 – New England Patriots (correct), 2018 – Philadelphia Eagles (correct), 2017 – Atlanta Falcons (incorrect), 2016 – Denver Broncos (correct), 2014 – Denver Broncos (incorrect), 2012 – New York Giants (correct), and 2011 – Green Bay Packers (correct).

There have been multiple Gerties throughout the year. They are all non-releasable groundhog animal ambassadors.

Gertie’s handlers claim that Gertie’s predictions are more accurate than fellow groundhog Punxsutawney Phil.

Gertie will once again be providing a prediction for Groundhog Day 2023, so if you’re in the area, why not stop by and help “wake” her up!

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