Friday, February 2, 2007

It's Groundhog Day!!!!! Staten Island Chuck Will KICK Your ASS!!!!!

And Staten Island Chuck kicks that punk, Punxatawney Phil's, ass!!!

Damn straight he's a fierce looking, take no prisoners looking Woodchuck, Chuck is.

If YOU lived with the world's largest rattlesnake collection, you wouldn't take no shit off of anyone, either.


And The Groundhog's Forecast Is...


On a chilly morning, our furry forecaster fails to see his shadow
Friday, February 02, 2007

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- You can warm your heart with word from our four-pawed prognosticator that winter's misery will be short-lived.

Staten Island Chuck, a groundhog with a purpose, crawled out of his cozy tree stump at the Staten Island Zoo this morning and what he saw -- or rather didn't see -- means an early spring is in our future.

No shadow, no long winter. The formula is simple.

But after this season's record-breaking warmth that saw the mercury hit 72 degrees on Jan. 6, Chuck's prediction this morning before a delighted crowd of kids and their parents -- and some high-ranking public figures to make it official -- was a no-brainer.

More than 200 children, parents and dignitaries stood under the pavilion at the Staten Island Zoo this morning to watch 10-month-old Charles G. Hogg VII make his first appearance on the big stage.

Some hoped Chuck wouldn't see his shadow.

"I like to play in the snow, but it's cold," said Sean Berry, 5, of Mariners Harbor, a kindergarten student at Blessed Sacrament School in West Brighton who was hoping for an early spring for his mother's sake. "I like to pick flowers for my mom," he said.

Others, like 6-year-old Ava Lagana of Oakwood, held out hope for Chuck's shadow, for her dad's sake.

"More winter," was the St. Charles School first-grader's wish. "I didn't really get to make a snowman. I haven't made one in so long, and I like to throw snowballs at my dad."

Exactly why dad Lenny Lagana was pulling for an early spring, "so I don't have to wear a hat and gloves and so I don't have to get hit with snowballs," he said. Before Chuck emerged, those gathered broke out in a 10-second round of applause in memory of John Lavelle, the Island assemblyman who passed away last week.

Standing beside tuxedo-clad Advance Editor Brian J. Laline, who presided over the ceremony, Councilman Michael McMahon made the announcement as the morning's first sign of snow flurries began to fall.

"I got it, I got it, Chuck has prognosticated," McMahon proclaimed. "No shadow -- spring is coming. "Groundhog Day, an annual custom with German roots, started in Punxsutawney, Pa., in February 1886.

The Tottenville High School Chorus performed after Chuck gave his forecast shortly before 7:30 a.m.

According to tradition, spring comes early if the groundhog fails to see his shadow. Had it been clear and sunny, however, allowing Chuck to see his shadow, winter would have continued for six more weeks.

Punxsutawney Phil, Chuck's chief rival, also did not see his shadow and predicted an early spring.

Since the tradition began at the Zoo in 1981, Chuck and his predecessors have been accurate in forecasting the rest of winter 22 of 26 years, including last year.

Just 12 days after he predicted an early spring last year, Staten Island was socked with a 22-inch blizzard on Feb. 13; however, the rest of winter was warmer than normal, making his prediction correct, according to John Caltabiano, executive director of the Staten Island Zoo.

Chuck's forecast was off the mark in 1984, 1992, 1997 and 2005. (There was no prediction in 1986, in deference to Punxsutawney Phil's celebrating his 100th anniversary.)

Clutching his stuffed groundhog named "Mystery," young Thomas Cotter walked away from this morning's ceremonial forecast happy.

"I want early spring," said the Bayonne, N.J., kindergartner, "so I can go back outside and play and go swimming."

Glenn Nyback covers environmental news for the Advance. He may be reached at

© 2007 Staten Island Advance

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